Review: The Happytime Murders

In the same vein of Team America: World Police and Sausage Party, The Happytime Murders blends traditional children’s entertainment with racy R-rated humor.

In a fictional world where humans and puppets coexist, puppet private investigator Phil Phillips (voiced by Bill Barretta) is investigating the murders of The Happytime Gang cast. Believing there is a serial killer on the loose; Phil must team up with his ex-partner, Detective Edwards (Melissa McCarthy), to help him solve the case.

There’s an entire subplot involving Phil’s previous time on the force, puppets being treated as second class citizen, and puppets getting high on sugar. None of those plot points really matters. The heart of the film is watching our furry friends be foul-mouthed and filthy for 90 mins.

The entire story is built around puppets doing things you’d never see them do on PBS. There’s a scene at a porn shop, a scene at a strip club, a scene in a crack house, a scene at an illegal poker game, and a sex scene. These sequences, however funny at times, are remixes of the same joke – puppet mimics human behavior, puppet says/does something x-rated in a cute puppet voice,  and puppet puns. Rinse and repeat.

Once the shock value of watching cuddly creatures curse wears off, you realize a compilation of perverse puppet behavior doesn’t make for a good movie. Depending on your sense of humor, it could make for an entertaining time, but not a good movie.

To be fair, the raunchy acts produce some pretty good laughs, but the film doesn’t do enough around those laughs to sustain the humor. Even with a run-time under 90 mins, the story drags a in the middle and can’t keep the same gut busting momentum that flows through the first act.

The Happytime Murders is the classic tale of a movie that should’ve been a sketch. The story bleeds the same jokes hoping to get a new reaction each time – they spend the whole movie chasing the same laughs with the same jokes. This movie is for a specific type of person with a specific type of humor, other people will be over the novelty of the film before the second act. The Happytime Murders is more about shock than ambition, but it will definitely find its audience once it hits streaming platforms.

Grade: C