Puppet visionary Brian Henson delivers with his latest film THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS a comedy for adults, which gradually turns out to be a pretty average noir crime thriller that is predictable from start to finish. We reveal more about this in our review.
The Plot Summary
Los Angeles, city of angels, stars and starlets, where everything is possible: Welcome to a world where people and dolls live in peaceful coexistence! At least so far – because a murderer is on the loose and, above all, is frightening the doll world. The victims are the members of the once celebrated, but now somewhat outdated Happytime Gang, who made children’s eyes smile for years with their TV show, but caused a lot of trouble behind the scenes. Now the party is over, because a mysterious killer eliminates one ensemble member after the other. Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) takes on the case and has to get back together with her ex-partner Phil. Years ago, Phil, a doll himself, made a terrible mistake that led to the exclusion of all dolls from the police force. But in this case his know-how is required. And so the two unlikely cops throw themselves into work – and right into the excessive underworld of the “Bad Puppet”…
Movie explanation of the ending
With The Muppets and Sesame Street as milestones in modern puppet entertainment, Jim Henson, founder of the Jim Henson Company, left his son Brian a prestigious legacy after his death in 1990. But with “The Muppets Christmas Story,” which was Brian Henson’s first film project in the position of producer and director, the Henson descendant convinced the fan community and critics alike. Brian Henson was also involved in series such as “The Dinosaurs”, “Animal Show” and “Muppets Tonight” over the course of his many years of work, but not in the new edition of “The Muppet Show” from 2015, which was canceled after a few issues Doll hype just no longer relevant? After all, the most recent live-action “Muppets” films also proved to be failures despite lots of guest stars and fine scripts. Or is there simply a need for a new revolution within fluffy entertainment? “The Happytime Murders” is not quite the revolution we were hoping for, after all, filmmakers had dared to use the contrast between supposedly child-friendly puppets and crude gags long before (keyword: “Team America”). But that’s not the only problem with the film, because overall it can be said that hardly anything is made of the potential of a crude puppet film. After a snappy start, “The Happytime Murders” becomes an interchangeable noir crime thriller.
Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) and her ex-partner Phil are forced to pull together.
You have to have that kind of bad luck: While the poster for “The Happytime Murders” is emblazoned with the bold statement that this film is “only for adults!”, the FSK intervened in the PR coup and unceremoniously gave up the film on December 12th free, which means that ultimately even six-year-olds can go to the film as long as they are accompanied by an adult. If in “The Happytime Murders” there are pieces of cotton splashing around instead of intestines and brains, then that is simply not explicit enough to persuade the film industry’s voluntary self-regulation to give it a higher release. However, this is surprising in terms of the language and the content of sexual innuendos. If a cow is penetrated by a tentacle creature until something squirts that you don’t know whether it’s sperm or milk, then it’s questionable whether you want to expect that from young viewers – doll context or not. The same applies to the use of vulgar vocabulary, orgiastic fountains of protein-containing liquids and the very explicitly re-enacted interrogation scene from “Basic Instinct”, in which the camera films the suggestively dressed doll right between the thighs – and here you can see what happened with Sharon Stone could only be imagined at the time. On the one hand, “The Happytime Murders” offers exactly what you would expect if you look at the marketing. But at the same time, all the scenes described here only make up a fraction of the film.
Unfortunately, a majority of these scenes take place in the first fifteen minutes. When director Brian Henson and his screenwriter Todd Berger, who was primarily responsible for short films, establish the scenario of people and stuff coexisting with each other in a Los Angeles that seems to consist exclusively of sex and violence, then the result is not just a crude note of apartheid – allegory (people constantly devalue the rag dolls because the fluffy fellows are not allowed to do certain jobs, have their own hospitals or have to be available to the two-legged ones as servants), but also a great contrast between the beady-eyed fellows and their preference for porn, Drugs and other shady pastimes. But it works: A visit to the doll brothel, in whose back rooms porn is filmed, is so beyond good and evil (the porn titles alone!) that you get an idea of how far the bawdy jokes in “The Happytime Murders” will go could if the makers followed through consistently. But unfortunately, at the moment when the actual plot of a puppet murderer begins, exactly the opposite happens – from now on the criminal case could also be told without puppets, because as funny (and absolutely convincing in terms of tricks) it is when the fluffy blue Phil ( In the USA version, spoken very confidently by Daniel Craig’s regular speaker Dietmar Wunder) interacts with his fleshy fellow human beings, at some point the focus is only on the very average investigations, in which the hinted racism issue no longer plays a role at some point.
Phil questions his ex-girlfriend Jenny (Elizabeth Banks).
Bracketed by a smoky voice-over in the best noir film style, those responsible ultimately retell an absolutely unspectacular criminal case. Phil and his human ex-partner Connie, Melissa McCarthy (“How To Party With Mum”) embodied in a far more uninspired manner than was the case in their many recent projects, they throw foul language around each other with constant regularity, but otherwise act like an average cop duo who eventually find their way back to each other despite their differences (and of course a very dramatic past). to catch the perpetrator. To do this, they follow one track after the next. The problem: The many false leads are so easy to see through, even for an audience inexperienced in crime, that the plot doesn’t offer anywhere near as much excitement as it would actually be possible. And so “The Happytime Murders” fails on both levels: at some point the film is simply neither rough nor funny enough for a rough puppet comedy, and as a crime thriller, the atmosphere and suspense fall by the wayside remarkably quickly. The only small plus point is the cast: both Maya Rudolph (“Sisters”) and Elizabeth Banks (“Pitch Perfect 3”)as well as the USA cast of voice actors (including Oliver Rohrbeck, Gru in “Despicable Me”) all act very ambitiously, but have significantly less to do than their roles require.
Conclusion: In the first 15 minutes of “The Happytime Murders,” Brian Henson does exactly what you would expect from an “adults only” puppet comedy. But after he has used up all his comedic powder, the film becomes a generic crime thriller, the resolution of which can already be guessed at over an hour before the end.
“The Happytime Murders” can be seen in USA cinemas nationwide from October 11th.