It was more adult in nature and had darker themes than any of the films and especially the television series.Three years later, not learning their lesson, a new muppet production arises. Trying to delve into 10th grade humor hoping that the novelty of puppets acting like humans would sustain an entire feature.
It does not.The HappyTime Murders revolves around a plot of someone killing off puppets who were the stars of a television series that is going into syndication. Once it goes into syndication ten million dollars will be split up amongst the cast. There is another provision that if a cast member dies, yes puppets die, that that portion will go to the puppet’s spouse. If there is no spouse, that portion will be divvied up amongst the remaining cast members.
Melissa McCarthy plays Edwards, a cop whose puppet partner Phil, the first puppet cop (sorry Fozzie) was forced off the…force. She also has a puppet liver and is addicted to… sugar she snorts up her nose. She also is mistaken for a man by the puppets. Over and over.
Maya Rudolph plays Bubbles, the noir secretary for a private eye. She has some chemistry with Phil and I would have liked to have seen more of them together. Her one scene with McCarthy falls flat, the physical shtick didn’t work too well. Elizabeth Banks plays the only human cast member of the show. No comedic moments for her, but she does amazingly well at playing the former love of a puppet.
Leslie David Baker best known for The Office, plays the Lieutenant, a stereotypical hardass Police LT. trying to keep his detectives in line. His performance reminded me of the movie “The Last Action Hero.”
Joel McHale plays the cocky FBI agent we are all supposed to hate who comes in and takes over the case. It just goes to show that big names cannot necessarily save a movie. Even a comedy packed with comedians. After a long drawn out investigation and several flashbacks to the scene that tarnished Phil’s career, several dead puppets later, the villain is revealed. It did take me a few minutes to make the connection but (spoiler) the Basic Instinct parody was a huge clue.
One lesson I did learn from the movie was that there are consequences to puppet cousins who have offspring. Call Child Services. The best part for me was the end credits showing some of the making of the film. This is one of those movies where they put all their best into the trailer.
I was unaware this was a Henson production. Brian Henson and Lisa Henson have the technical skills down, and are masters of the craft of filming puppets. I don’t expect them to recapture anything their father ever did. Nor should anyone. I could see they were having fun making the film, but it just did not transfer to comedic gold in the final product. I think they relied too much on the perpetual shock of puppets being real and acting crass like many humans to carry the film. They did not save anything outside the trailers for the audiences, and that led to the main joke wearing thin before the opening credits began to roll.
It was an attempt at a dirtier “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and it just did not have the right stuff(ing). Maybe it got Pilaffed. I wonder if Brian or Lisa had a dream about killing off puppets and this was the result…