But Puppets!: The Happytime Murders

The Happytime Murders, Melissa McCarthy, Puppets, Muppets, Happytime Murders
Poster for The Happytime Murders starring Melissa McCarthy

The Happytime Murders isn’t a good movie. You probably weren’t expecting it to be one. But despite inconsistent execution, there are some interesting ideas at play.

The Good

As you might expect, Brian Henson and his crew pull off the puppets in the real world dynamic in a fairly intriguing way. You get pulled out of the action with weird1 shots every now and then, and the humor is stuck in crude mode. But it manages to pull off some decent subversion along the way. And there’s even some social commentary in there.

Visually, the puppets blend into the world seamlessly. And while that’s mostly an expectation at this point, it’s a fairly strenuous task that this movie pulls off effortlessly. Even in it’s conception, you can see the real effort put into creating this world. Even if the actual plot and story don’t really keep up.

Melissa McCarthy, The Happytime Murders, Happytime Murders, Puppets, Muppets
Melissa McCarthy in The Happytime Murders

The Bad

The Happytime Murders

The story and plot are generic. Creative flourishes beyond the visual seem limited to a few individual scenes. Even those scenes work because they’re playing with expectations you might have as a frequent movie watcher.

There’s a pretty good call back right before we get to our totally predictable callback to the flashback that established our main characters conflict climax. But even that moment relies on crude humor and an equally predictable plot twist.

Getting Non-Puppets To Care

And almost every actor seems to understand how generic the plot of this movie is. Maybe they were directed this way2, but every performance feels bored and muted. Which is frustrating because The Happytime Murders boasts an incredibly accomplished comedic cast.

But Melissa McCarthy looks like she wants to kill her agent for dragging her into another C+ comedy.3 The novelty of seeing Leslie David Baker playing someone besides Stanley wears off after a scene or two.4 And Joel McHale — once again — is cast because he’s a pretty face from whatever Edgy Ryan Seacrest News Show he does now.5

Maya Rudolph is actually pretty fun, though. She seems to be the only actor who saw what type of movie they’re in, and decided to wink at it the entire time. She’s a godsend in a movie that probably would have lost me by the end of the second act without her.

Leslie David Baker, Stanley, Joel McHale, The Happytime Murders, Happytime Murders
Leslie David Baker and Joel McHale in The Happytime Murders

Conclusion

Probably don’t see this movie in theaters. Grab it at a Redbox in a few months, just so you can say you’ve seen it. Maybe don’t be sober when you watch it.

Notes

  1. probably necessary
  2. so the puppets and a high on sugar Melissa McCarthy would feel more lively
  3. just…more Spy and The Heat, less Life Of The Party and Identity Thief
  4. I assume his interest in the part did the same
  5. the guy has real comedic timing, just give him some good dialog