My youth was filled with songs about rainbows and what's on the other side. Frogs weren't gross, and pigs always got what they wanted — especially when it came to their man. Ah, it was a happy time for me. But with the new film “The Happytime Murders,” the puppets that used to provide me with hours of enjoyment are now much more concerned about their own enjoyment.
Of course, as we get older, our tastes change. Challenges are different as humans grow up, so why shouldn't the puppets have adult issues as well?
In “The Happytime Murders,” we get to see what happens when puppets grow up — and it isn't pretty. A popular human and puppet show is heading to syndication, and the Happytime gang is due for an equal share of the lucrative proceeds. But someone wants a bigger piece of the pie, leading to cast members being eliminated one at a time.
Phil Philips (voice of Bill Barretta) knows the Happytime gang. His brother worked on the show, and he hung out with the cast. But more importantly, Phil used to be a cop. He worked alongside Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) until an unfortunate incident that changed both of their lives. Now the two ex-partners must work together again to get to the bottom of this baffling case in the city of angels.
Let me be clear — this is not a film for kids. Although the general look of the puppets harkens back to other Henson creations, these are not the stars of your favorite films and the television shows you watched as a kid. From a mere couple minutes in, when Phil starts lighting up a cigarette, your classic memories are smashed. And before it's over, the film will truly obliterate them.
Sure, I laughed at a couple of the jokes, but I found myself shaking my head far more frequently. Jokes went on far too long, and there was no middle ground. It felt like the film was purposely trying to put people and puppets into the absolute worst situations they could find instead of toning it down just a bit. I wanted to see some "average" guys and girls who grew up. Instead there are more strippers, drunks, adult film creators and addicts than any ordinary town can hold.
There is a place for adult humor, but in “The Happytime Murders,” I found a lot of adult and very little humor. Much of the film tries to shock instead of entertain. And it's the amount of entertaining that is lacking.
I will say, I found the credit sequence interesting, so stick around — it starts with watching the puppeteers perform, and I'm pretty sure they weren't sitting around the dinner table telling their family what they shot that day. The background for the credits is witty and adult-oriented, if you read between the scroll. But that said, this opportunity to be different just seemed to trample on my childhood a bit.
My happy time is dead, but it will always remain in the back of my head — now where's the shower? I feel dirty after watching this and will never look at silly string the same way again.
Paul's Grade: C-
The Happytime Murders
Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks, Maya Rudolph
Director: Brian Henson