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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Rob Reviews "The Happytime Murders"

You know those kinds of films that can make an audience laugh out loud while shaking their heads at the same time? Films full of those moments where under normal circumstances, there would be a lot of squirming in seats and wondering why one is laughing at what is going on as intensely as they are?

Welcome to “The Happytime Murders.” (Not even gonna bury it here, people. Seriously.)

Melissa McCarthy plays Detective Connie Edwards, a lesser version of her character in “The Heat,” but pretty doggone close. In a world where puppets co-exist with humans but are in no way equal, she is paired up with her former puppet (and only puppet cop in history now turned private investigator) Phil Philips (voiced and brought to life by Bill Barretta) to solve a group of murders of cast members from a classic television show featuring both species. Co-starring Leslie David Baker (Stanley from “The Office”), Elizabeth Banks, Mya Rudolph, and Joel McHale, this is film noir done in the sunshine of Southern California.

Complete with the mysterious client of Phil’s in Sandra White, a number of crazy circumstances, and even former loves and complicated family relationships, this has all of the trappings of a Philip Marlowe tale, except that it doesn’t. What “Team America: World Police” did for marionettes, “The Happytime Murders” does for puppets. Done by Jim Henson’s son, Brian, as well as others with that same last name, and at one point threatened by a certain children’s show that his father created for the tagline, “Less Sesame. More Street,” to say that nothing is off limits goes without saying. With adult situations would have easily gotten this film an “NC-17,” I cannot even use words like “raunchy,” “dark,” or even “creepy” to do this justice. If you are one of those people that lives in a conservative world, I can almost guarantee that getting all the way through the ninety minutes this film carries will be a tough mountain to climb. There is even an homage to one of the 1990s most controversial films that is featured in the trailer and trust me, it’s ALL there.

I cannot lie and say I did not laugh out on more than one occasion during “The Happytime Murders,” but there are also times where I felt (no pun intended) that it was a bit much. Sure, it tends to be shock value, but was it ALL needed? Now, from a technical standpoint, I was incredibly impressed with the puppetry, especially in the scenes where the puppets were walking freely amongst the sets. There is a pre-credit sequence where some of the techniques are on display, and for me, that made it that much more awesome to see.

I would normally say that I feel bad for people who take the family to this film, but this is one of those cases where if the homework is not done (and it isn’t really that hard to do, as it isn’t like it hides what it is), it’s kind of on those who don’t more than it is on the filmmakers that do.

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