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The Happytime Murders works as a delivery mechanism for delightful, if immature, nostalgia

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The happytime murders might be a perfect fit for the 12-year-old in you - PROVIDED
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  • The happytime murders might be a perfect fit for the 12-year-old in you

When you're 12-years-old, life holds a certain giggly magic that can't be truly replicated. At least I know that holds true for me. I'm sure I was called an immature pervert at some point. Around then, I got a thrill sneaking into R-rated movies like Basket Case, Deadtime Stories, and the ever so not-good Run DMC feature Tougher Than Leather. Between that and hanging out with other like-minded awkward 7th-grade weirdos trying to figure out life and the opposite sex, it's truly a wonder I ever learned how to speak words and stuff. I'm pretty sure that being a 12-year-old boy with a Beavis and Butt-Head-sized infatuation with boobs, boners, and butts, an extensive collection of Garbage Pail Kids trading cards, and a love of Tom & Jerry violence would have made me a perfect candidate for The Happytime Murders, directed by Brian Henson (yes, son of Jim). Show me puppets exploding, getting busy, I'm an easy target that way.

A delightfully dark story takes place in between moments of puppets being shot until their stuffing floats through the air and a puppet octopus jerking off cow udders until her milk geysers everywhere. The plot is pretty simple: members of a formerly popular sitcom are being killed left and right and it's up to detective Phil Phillips, a washed up former cop, to solve the crimes before it's too late. He has a His Girl Friday for a secretary, played by Maya Rudolph. He has a former cop partner (Melissa McCarthy) on the case that actively hates him. There are pervert puppets, drug addict puppets; and violent puppets interacting with strippers (Elizabeth Banks), tired police chiefs (Leslie David Baker), and dickish FBI agents (Joel McHale). It's what you think it will be and nothing more.

In the league of movies that involve childhood fun being demystified, Robert Zemeckis' neo-noir Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Trey Parker and Matt Stone's Team America, and Peter Jackson's behind-the-magic grossout Meet The Feebles, which the movie is an amalgamation of, The Happytime Murders doesn't hit those heights. In fact, if anything, I was reminded of a mid '00s Canadian sitcom, Puppets Who Kill, which centered around four criminal puppets staying at a halfway house. Since its inception, I was a bit in love with the show in spite of its edgy plots (or edgy-ish ... South Park came five years earlier) revolving around things like "Prostitutes For Jesus," necrophiliacs, testicle-collecting, and of course, rampant vulgarity. Happytime didn't break new ground in the slightest. A lot of the targets were blindingly easier than shooting fish in a barrel and the humor was about as subtle as a hammer to the skull. Still, in spite of those flaws, I'm still charmed by it.

Watching the humans in the film, I was reminded of how much I like Melissa McCarthy. From The Heat to Tammy, that woman can let a vulgarity laced smartass diss fly like no other. When some of the outrageous humor in those films failed, she was the one thing that kept things afloat for me. Even her shitty movies I like. I walked away with a similar feeling from The Happytime Murders. Rationally, I could see it was flawed and somewhat inert at points, but that primal 12-year-old part of my brain laughed. I think it's safe to say that Henson's film is best enjoyed with friends and beer or what have you.

There is nothing worse than getting lint stuck on your tongue - IMAGES COURTESY STX FINANCING
  • Images courtesy STX Financing
  • There is nothing worse than getting lint stuck on your tongue

To be self-critical for a moment, I'm probably being soft on the movie because of that soft spot for lowbrow puppet humor. Maybe it's because, unlike superheroes, movie theaters haven't been flooded by puppet sex, drugs, and violence so that maybe "puppet screwing, exploding, cussing, and getting loaded" exhaustion hasn't set in yet.

Anyway, while it could've been better, The Happytime Murders is an immature film, but I enjoyed it because 12-year-old me would have been in heaven. I can only hope some daring, underage perverts buy tickets to see Alpha or Crazy Rich Asians and "accidentally" wind up in the wrong theater.

Related Film

The Happytime Murders

Official Site:

Director: Brian Henson

Writer: Todd Berger

Producer: Brian Henson, Jeff Hayes, Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Todd Berger, Maya Rudolph, Elizabeth Banks and Joel McHale


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