My interest in this film was piqued by its apparent similarities to a fake film I made up and reviewed one April Fools Day. My movie The Koala Klub Killings, like The Happytime Murders, took its name from a series of homicides associated with an old kids TV show. Normally when I watch a bad movie I acknowledge that I couldn’t have done it any better myself but on this occasion the evidence rather suggests otherwise. My idea for a movie that was so stupid that it had to be a joke was a hundred times better than this hideous parade of smut and cliche. I assume it is trying to go for parody and shock but it doesn’t demonstrate the intelligence to do either with any impact. Its actually all a little bit sad.
It was clear to me fifteen minutes in that I’d made a terrible mistake electing to watch this film and I was totally and utterly done with it no more than fifteen minutes after that. I stuck with it to the end though so that I could share the important message that no one else on the planet should ever ever do the same. The gag essentially seems to be to take Jim Henson style puppets and show them swearing, getting high, having sex, smoking and getting smoked but I cannot tell you how painfully unfunny this all is. What is tragic is that this is filmic abomination is actually made by the Henson company themselves.
Yep, that wonderful institution that gave us The Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, Bear in the Big Blue House, Labyrinth and The Storyteller has cheapened itself in the most embarrassing way. THIS FILM HAS THE SAME DIRECTOR AS THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! The Muppet Christmas Carol had singing veg and ice skating penguins, and a wonderful warming message about generosity and love. This film has an octopus performing sexual favours for a cow. I don’t find this at all amusing and frankly I’m not sure who would. It’s not that I’m not a prude; it’s that I believe this sort of humour needs to be done with some level of subtly rather than the squirt everything up on the wall and see what sticks approach they are going with here. As it is The Happytime Murders is just nasty. Jim Henson must be spinning in his grave like The Great Gonzo with his nose stuck in a Catherine Wheel. What is even more upsetting is that the director/traitor in question is Henson’s own son Brian. Brian Henson, you need to produce a Muppet version of The Wind in the Willows right now to make recompense.
To be fair, all of the actors involved should be cripplingly ashamed of themselves too. Elizabeth Banks, Maya Rudolph, I hold you responsible as well. As for Melissa McCarthy, I do actually find her quite funny but this is the second time in three years that one of her movies has come at the bottom of my annual list. For mercy’s sake that woman needs a better agent.
Almost as bad as the constantly laboured, seedy and unfailingly unfunny jokes is the fact that the puppetry isn’t that good either. The long shots of the puppets running around are clearly kids in felt suits and that was never true of Kermit. I know you could see the knuckles in the back of his head but there was artistry in the way he moved on those spindly little green legs. There is no comparable craft or artistry in this film at all.
They couldn’t even fit a in dance sequence which might have given the movie a little something to recommend it. They repeatedly say in the script that puppets love to sing and dance but are not able to work this into the plot. There is no doubt that a big musical number would have helped, just like it did in Kevin Smith’s almost equally dumb and puerile Clerks II. They do have the puppets jiggle around over the closing credits but that doesn’t count; that’s just lazy.
The whole idea of a grown up story with puppets was done with so much more sophistication and humour fourteen years ago in the Joss Whedon’s TV show Angel. The episode in question shared some plot ideas, had a similar name; Smile Time, and was inspired. This is just insipid.
J. August Richards, Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof and David Boreanaz? in Smile Time.
The Ripley Factor:
There is one female character that ticks all the femme fatale cliches. She is overly sexualised and underwritten and has demeaning moments of nudity. The fact that she is a puppet doesn’t make any of this okay.
The Happytime Murders is on iTunes now and is on DVD and Blu-ray blah blah blah blah blah.., you really don’t need to know.