THE REEL: Happytime Murders is not your usual puppet show storyline

Friday December 21 2018

A screengrab from the trailer of the movie

A screengrab from the trailer of the movie "The Happytime Murders". PHOTO | COURTESY 

THOMAS RAJULA
By THOMAS RAJULA
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The last time I watched a movie with a lot of puppet characters was when The Muppets movie came out in 2011.

That was, however, a mild family movie that was a bit light on tone. Just going by the title The Happytime Murders you know you’re set up for something different from your normal Muppet-y storyline.

The Happytime Murders is a comedy crime film that seeks to solve the murders of puppets from a popular 90s television show. It is set in a world where puppets and people live together but hardly get along, after the puppets are granted rights to live as people and not just entertaining entities.

The first puppet to ever wear a police badge at Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) former detective Phil Philips (performed by Bill Barretta) has turned into a private investigator after being discharged from the force. Now, an alcoholic and prone to violent engagements with suspects, especially humans, Phil works cases for puppets as his investigative skills remain intact.

While investigating a case for a client, Sandra (Dorien Davies), a series of murders start happening around him. And they all involve the cast of “The Happytime Gang”, a show that was very popular in the 90s that has just recently been bought into syndication.

INVESTIGATIONS

Phil’s former partner at the LAPD, Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) is the detective in charge of the homicide cases. From the onset you can see that the two have no love lost between them, stemming from what led to Phil being discharged. However, they are forced to work together if they are to get to the bottom of this crime and hopefully keep the rest of cast members of the television show from meeting their demise. This includes the only human member of the show’s cast, Jenny (Elizabeth Banks).

Right off the bat, let me just say that the movie is shocking! I only saw the title and the poster and thought ‘Yay! Melissa McCarty and puppets, this is bound to be a laugh’. Little did I know that I was going to end up watching an R-rated movie. I really had a hard time trying to reconcile my mind with what I was seeing and hearing. This isn’t how Muppet movies go. Well, it’s not a Muppet movie, but you know what I mean; I hope.

Let’s start with the language. Let’s just bring out the biggest detergent and disinfectant in the world because the language is filthy in this movie! Enough to have you make an ugly face like a disgusted African mum. Without a warning, they just mouth out unprintables in the first minutes of the movie and it doesn’t stop until the movie ends. Then there’s the levels of violence and sexual perversion that I guess puppets make easier to go with, especially considering that puppets are made from animal, people and just all sorts of other likenesses.

However, I did find it one heck of a laugh once I got my mind to settle to the fact that, yeah, this is it. Melissa McCarthy always brings the comedy goods. And with Maya Rudolph playing Phil’s personal assistant, Bubbles, then you know you’re in for one humour fest. It’s very interesting to see this old art, puppeteering, still having a place in these days of computer-generated imagery and motion capture animation. You will definitely want to watch this with friends!

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