*. The Happytime Murders is a bad movie. Not so bad it’s good, though it does tend in that direction, but so bad it makes you wonder how it ever happened.
*. The idea itself wasn’t new. It was described accurately upon its release as Who Framed Roger Rabbit meets Meet the Feebles. But without the magic of the former or shock value of the latter.
*. It’s a comedy with one joke, which is puppets engaged in “adult” behaviour. Meaning having sex, doing drugs, and swearing a lot. I say this is the joke, but it isn’t funny. Crude, but not funny. It’s also a bit uncomfortable. There’s something not just juvenile but angry and nasty about the degrading of the puppets here. Since it was directed by Brian Henson (son of Jim Henson, creator of the muppets) it’s hard not to imagine some kind of acting out. But it ends up just awkward.
*. Why isn’t it funny? Some possibilities: (1) it’s trying too hard; (2) the timing is all wrong, given the awkward way the puppets move; (3) the fact that the puppet faces can’t show any expression, making them as funny as zombies or people wearing masks; (4) the really boring voice of the main puppet character, Detective Phil Phillips, played by long-time muppet performer Bill Barretta.
*. The plot isn’t very interesting, being concerned with the murder of the cast of a puppet television show called The Happytime Gang. It’s the basic noir set-up, with Phillips and his partner (Melissa McCarthy) hunting down leads through the sleazy highs and lows of L.A. What’s really going on is perfectly obvious from the opening minutes because it’s the only explanation we’re left with.
*. McCarthy does everything she can to make this shit work, and her delivery of one line was the only smile the film got out of me. As I say, it’s a movie you watch wondering how it got made. How did they let things go so far down this road without realizing how poor the material was and how none of it was working? There seems to have been some fighting in post-production over putting together a satisfactory cut so maybe some of the blame has to go there. But still you have to ask: What were they thinking?