I guess I knew from the trailer that maybe this film wasn’t going to do well in theaters. You usually walk away with one of two feelings after your first screening of the red band trailer.
You either thought it was hilarious or you thought it was disgustingly unfunny. Since I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old, I of course thought the trailer was hilarious.
Off the bat it drew comparisons to other raunchy toon films such as Meet the Feebles and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Happytime Murders is a cross between both films. I really wasn’t expecting how much Happytime Murders was going to be a noir detective thriller. I just assumed since Melissa McCarthy was in it, it would be like The Heat. And it sort of it, but with a more noir flair.
Raunchy puppet movies, taking what the Muppets gave us and perverting it, isn’t a new concept. It has been done before, like with what I mentioned earlier, Meet the Feebles. And also maybe let’s include Crank Yankers into the mix. It was a series on Comedy Central that lasted for about 5 seasons so I’m sure you’ve heard of that more than the average Joe has heard of Meet the Feebles, one of Peter Jackson’s earliest films.
The lead in this is Phil Philips, he’s a grizzled private eye who just happens to be a puppet. He lives in a strange world where puppets like you’d see on Sesame Street or The Muppets are real and living side by side with humans. But it isn’t harmonious, as puppets are looked down on and taken advantage of.
Puppets are treated as second class citizens much like the orcs in Bright. The comparisons don’t end there with Bright as Phil Philips used to be a police officer with the LAPD. That is until one day he and his partner Detective Connie Edwards, played by Melissa McCarthy, got in a shootout with a deranged puppet. When Edwards got held at gunpoint, Phil needed to take the shot, but misses, hitting a puppet bystander walking home with his daughter.
After that, his partner hates him and he is kicked off the force, now banning puppets from ever becoming cops.
Like any traditional noir detective story, this is of course narrated by Phil, the way any hardboiled private eye would. And like any good noir detective story, it starts off with a dame waiting in his office.
Now if you’ve seen any kind of detective story, you know to never ever trust the sexy lady who gives our lead character his job. As much as I love noir detective stories, that trope has been done to death, like the Wilhelm scream.
So right away, you know she is at least somehow involved with what is to come. You just don’t know how it relates to her yet. Let’s just say, there’s a reason why they didn’t start the film off showing us what happened with the standoff that ended tragically.
After perusing the blackmail letter, Phil notices the “P” is the P from a dirty magazine called Pussy Party.
To double check his findings, he goes to his local porn shop, where he runs into Bumblypants, a rabbit puppet that used to work on the show The Happytime Gang. The same show Phil’s brother used to work on.
While Phi goes into the back to check the files on who might have had this issue of Pussy Party the blackmailer used, a masked gunman shows up with a shotgun, blasting everyone in the joint.
After the two exchange a few quips, Phil goes on his way to meet his brother Larry. Compared to the rest of the cast of Happytime Gang, he’s the only one that hasn’t fallen on hard times. Everyone else is either a stripper, a gang member, a junkie, or whatever the hell the last two were. A couple of weirdo incest puppets.
Larry has a girl over when the masked killer shows up at his place, releasing a couple of dogs. Dogs are like natural enemies to puppets, so as soon as the dogs got released, they pulled Larry apart.
Phil starts to see the connection now, the robbery at the porn store and now his brother… someone is going after ex-Happytime Gang cast members.
Phil can’t officially be on the case, but is hired on as a consultant, teaming back up with his old partner, who isn’t all that thrilled with the reunion.
The first lead they try to follow is finding a motive. Why would anyone want to bump off these has-been actors? They go to the tv executive that gave them their start. Seems the cast is looking to receive a pretty penny now that the show is about to go into syndication. Looks like the surviving family members receive the money. That could be a motive.
One thing about Edwards that we later find out, is she’s half puppet. You see, during the shootout, she got hit, damaging her liver. Thankfully, right across the street was a puppet hospital. At gunpoint, Phil orders the doctors to work on her, which resulted in her now having a puppet liver and a craving for sugar. Sugar is like crack to puppets. They drink maple syrup like it is booze and snort cane sugar like it’s cocaine.
But that brings me to the question… do puppets have organs? I mean, we just saw Phil’s brother Larry get torn apart by dogs, all he was filled with was fluff. Fluff is even slang in this world referring to puppets. I’m going to beat the fluff out of you!
So does that mean Edwards just has throw pillow fluff in her? How does that work? And it is just a plushy organ, wouldn’t it get weird inside you with all your human blood? Soggy at least.
Anyway, because of this, Edwards is kind of a junkie.
I actually kind of like that element, it really gives her a reason to hate Phil for more than just being a lousy shot. It also gives her character some depth. We find out about her sugar addiction when they go to visit one of the cast members, now turned drug dealer. Drug being glittery sugar.
To prove she’s cool, she snorts a ton of sugar. While she’s getting high, Lyle and Phil have a talk outside. But their conversation is cut short when a drive-by takes Lyle out, killing him and a few of his gang members.
Worried that the killer might be coming after Jenny, the only human on the show, Phil tracks her down to warn her. She has now become a stripper and is the one that got away. Seems Phil and Jenny used to be a thing back when the show started. But somewhere along the way things went bad.
After their meeting, Phil and Sandra knock boots or whatever the puppet equivalent would be. Knocking fluffies? Squishies? You know, there’s actually a puppet porno called Let My Puppets Come. It’s about as tantalizing as one would think a puppet porno would be.
While Phil is walking Jenny to her car, it explodes, killing her. Now from what I recall, the FBI already suspected Phil as the killer. I remember them showing up at his office when Sandra gave him the blackmail photo and then had sex. The FBI wants to question him and he takes off out of the window. But maybe I’m remembering the events taking place at different times…
Either way, Phil is now a suspect and is on the run.
Meanwhile, Edwards managed to track down Goofer, now a homeless drug addict. But the next morning after questioning him, he is found dead on the beach.
The only two suspects left are the only two cast members left alive. The kissing cousins.
Phil and Edwards track them down to their home out in the middle of nowhere, where they find them already dead and the killer making their escape. But before Phil and Edwards can catch them, the FBI shows up and arrests them.
While getting interrogated, we learn that Phil’s client Sandra was married to Jenny and is putting the blame of her murder on Phil. So… puppets can’t even become police officers and are basically segregated, but they can not only marry a human but also get gay married? That seems unlikely given how looked down on puppets are. But not only is it allowed, but no one bats an eye either. Not even Phil, who used to be in love with Jenny. I’m pretty sure if I just found out my ex was now married to a lesbian I might be somewhat surprised.
But Phil is more shocked about Sandra accusing him of being a murderer. Okay, that actually might be more important than finding out your ex is gay.
Phil is arrested and Edwards goes home to drink herself into oblivion with her endless stash of maple syrup.
That’s when she is visited by Phil’s assistant who I forgot to even mention until now.
Yeah, she’s actually the daughter of the bystander Phil accidently shot and killed all those years ago in the standoff. This has all been about revenge! But also just about money, as we’ll learn later… it’s a bit muddled. And Also she just like murdering puppets?
Edwards breaks Phil out of jail by shooting him, having to rush him to the hospital. That’s when Edwards hijacks the ambulance and they head for the airport to stop Sandra from leaving the country.
But the twists don’t stop there, it turns out Jenny was in on it this whole time with Sandra and shocker, she’s still alive. They plan on taking the syndication money the show is making and leave town. But Phil points out that Sandra was just using her for the money and Sandra turns on her, knocking her out.
Sandra makes a break for it, resulting in Edwards to get held at gunpoint once again. Now Phil has to take the shot… can he make it-
Oh, yeah, he shot her in the head with ease. Okay, that resolves that I guess.
So, I didn’t hate this movie. I know it has been getting shit on endlessly. But I find the film very passable.
Sure, the film wasn’t nearly as funny as the trailers made it out to be. In fact, I kind of didn’t want to go to theaters to see this one, mainly because of the sex scene the trailer so prominently showcased.
Watching that with other people around was uncomfortable to say the least. Good thing there was only like two other people in the theater with me.
It didn’t even seem like this should have been in theaters, it felt like a Netflix film. The only draw was the whole puppet angle and that kind of gets old after 30 minutes.
What kept me interested was the noir detective story and how well Melissa McCarthy worked off of Phil. I also really enjoyed the Phil character. He was complex and hardboiled, the way I like my private eyes.
It’s also maybe the best film Melissa McCarthy has done in years. I’m not sure how many of these bombs she can make before people get sick of it.
Her whole shtick is the fact she looks like your mom, but is doing all these things no mom would do. This is why a lot of moms go see her movies. Not sure what appeal she has in a movie like this though. Moms aren’t going to want to see a noir puppet detective movie with graphic puppet sex and nudity.
Either way, I’d say this is a RENT IT. It wasn’t terrible, I found myself amused by a few parts, I dug the noir feel, I loved the puppetry, but there wasn’t anything that makes this a must see in theaters. Wait until it comes to Netflix, at home is the perfect place to watch it. It’s also the perfect place to masturbate to puppet porn without anyone judging you.
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