REVIEW: ‘The Happytime Murders’ is raunchy fun, but fails to create intriguing storyline


Courtesy of STX Enttertainment

Alex Novak

 “The Happytime Murders” is possibly the raunchiest, most outrageous movie of the year that delivers laughs with nearly every other line, yet ultimately lacks a cohesive plot.

The film tells the story of private investigator Phil Philips, a puppet ex-cop attempting to solve a string of murders of multiple characters from “The Happytime Gang,” an ‘80s children’s TV series that included Phil’s brother, Larry, by teaming up with his ex-partner Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy).

Unfortunately, the film itself cannot claim much more than its perceived premise. The simple fact remains here that you can plan on having your preconceptions proven correct.

As it trades off double the comedy while simultaneously forfeiting any shot it had of having a solid plot, the film becomes increasingly grueling to invest in because it doesn’t have any of the unexpected twists or intense moments the title suggests.

If you only saw the trailer or a TV commercial for it before taking the trip to the movie theater, you will discover nothing surprising or new that you didn’t already know about its storyline upon seeing the film.

Furthermore, its complete lack of pacing drives it to be nothing more than a run-of-the-mill comedy, failing to make it enjoyable to follow and wonder what is going to happen next, except to see how juvenile the jokes and debauchery can get.

Frequently, the story loses itself in its script, trying to be as outlandish as it possibly can, and misses the opportunity to make it intriguing and thus supplement its comedic premise with interesting subject matter.

And while its runtime is packed with jokes­ — adult and uncensored — it houses little if any cinematic accomplishment aside from the creative twist on these characters.

Moreover, its slimy premise earned them a lawsuit from the Sesame Workshop for the unauthorized use of its name in the film’s tagline, “No Sesame, All Street.” While the lawsuit charges were not upheld in the end, the controversy can help shed some light on the type of film this set out to be.

One bright standout from the movie, however, is without question the cast used for the puppeteering and their respective voices. The performance this group delivers is truly impeccable and well-performed, even in a compromised story. It’s a strong showcase of technical achievements of puppeteering that often goes unnoticed.

Additionally, Melissa McCarthy delivers a fresh and undeniably funny performance in her role as Detective Edwards.

This is a movie that had a real opportunity to put a solid adult twist on the recognizable children’s show characters, including most of the over-the-top comedy, if it was really necessary.

Instead of developing its comedy alongside a well-written crime mystery storyline that would actually make for a film of substance and story, screenwriter Todd Berger and director Brian Henson likely chose to focus their efforts on the simple idea of a comedy instead of trying to push the envelope in other aspects of its plot.

In the end, the film doesn’t try to be something it’s not, but its raunchiness and blatant disrespect to even have a single moment to honor its ‘80s children’s show inspiration is saddening. The results are underwhelming at best, and truthfully, a waste of creative potential.

Alex Novak is an entertainment reviewer. Contact him at [email protected].