The Happytime Murders - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Happytime Murders Reviews

Page 1 of 21
November 12, 2018
Nice movie to see and just relax and laugh.
½ November 12, 2018
Ohhhh so sad. Melissa M. You are better than this.
November 11, 2018
Revolutionary. Funny. Whimsical. "The Happytime Murders" film is exquisite and extremely entertaining. 5 out of 5 golden leaves.
November 4, 2018
Sesame Street this ain't. Neither, unfortunately, is it Avenue Q. The Happytime Murders, a pet project of Brian Henson, the son of the famous Jim Henson, is an ambitious and technically amazing but uneven and at times, too distractingly vulgar, production which aims to be primarily for adults. Although capably directed and packed with a likable cast of stars and an interesting if familiar mystery plot, the end result is a mixed bag more than anything else. Critics were especially harsh on this film, declaring it to be an unfunny mess and one of the worst films of the year. My opinion: it's nowhere near that. But it's not exactly a great movie either. It's somewhere inbetween.

The best part of the film is the puppetry. Although the characters in question are a far cry from the likes of Big Bird or Kermit the Frog -- they swear constantly, snort drugs (read: rock candy with a Twizzler!), have sex, and in one disgustingly overlong scene ejaculate silly string over the room(!). But the puppeteers and the technical wizardry behind making these puppet characters as convincing and believable as they do cannot be faulted. This is top notch work. Particularly impressive are some wide shots where we see the puppets in full size walking across the street without having to look at them from the waist up. (As a bonus, there's an end credit sequence in which we see outtakes -- or rather, footage of how this stuff works.) The lead character, a disgraced police officer named Phil Phillips, puppeteered by Bill Barretta, goes through a relatable character arc to keep one invested in his plight.

The other assets are live actresses Melissa McCarty and Maya Rudolph. McCarty shares the top-billing as Phillips' ex-partner, Connie Edwards, and while your opinions about the actress may vary, she actually gives a great performance in this film. She treats the puppets as equals and is a lot of fun to watch. Ruldoph gives a more tender turn as Phillips' secretary, oddly named Bubbles. Although she doesn't have many scenes, she brings a lot of much needed heart to the picture.

The idea behind the picture is sound: a world where puppets are treated as second-class citizens (think Who Framed Roger Rabbit but with puppets instead of cartoons and you get the idea), and a murder mystery which involves puppets getting bumped off by a mysterious assassin. These murders, oddly enough, are actually among the most visually humorous moments in the film! Rather than spraying blood, we see stuffing pop out of these puppets as they are gunned down, decapitated, or mutilated -- you name it! It's oddly funny in a twisted way. And the plotline, although not especially original or groundbreaking, at least builds well to its climax, even if the final showoff is disappointingly short.

The primary problem with The Happytime Murders is that it spends much of its 90 minute running time indulging in a lot of tastelessly vulgar stuff. Although meant to provide humor, sights of seeing these characters doing the things mentioned earlier actually proves to be more off-putting than funny. An overlong sex scene involving Philips and another puppet, femme fatale Sandra, which culminates with a gross, extensive silly string gag, in particular, left me sick to my stomach and did take me out of the picture. The wonderful Broadway musical Avenue Q had a similar scene that was nowhere near this disgusting and arguably funnier.

Worse still, there's no major purpose to a lot of this shock value stuff. It feels as though Henson was trying to push as much comfort zone as possible, but I feel that bad taste for bad taste's sake does not a great movie make. I can't help but wonder if maybe the film would be better off toning down a lot of this over-the-top raunchiness, as it would at least make its storyline more tighter plotted. There are also some implied ideas that puppets are treated as second class citizens, but the script doesn't delve into them as deeply as it could have.

There are flashes of brilliance in THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS, and it isn't an altogether failure, but the inconsistent shift in tone and overemphasis on the shock value cause the picture to be a mixed bag. It is worth watching for the amazing puppetry and McCarthy and Ruldolph's performances, but as the show is quite profane and extreme, it's definitely not for kids.
October 21, 2018
All the good parts were in the trailer so it's just better to watch the trailer 2 star
½ October 19, 2018
I have to admit that movie was pretty ridiculous. I mean there were some good comedy parts throughout film that made me laugh, but as for the rest of the film, I was more laughing at the film than with it. And because of that as well as writing/story of the film, I'm kind of disappointed. I mean seriously, this film could have been a blockbuster comedy, but instead what could've been something awesome turned out to be something silly/ridiculous. However, I'm not too completely disappointed because there are worse films out there (The Emoji Movie, Michael Bay films, films that Nicolas Cage stars in, etc.). Also, I have to give the people behind this film credit for their work and coming up with the insane concept of making an R-Rated muppet film because it's not too often you get to see this on the big screen. And who knows we may never get to see these types of films happen again. So for that, I give Happytime Murders a 5/10.
½ October 19, 2018
Without McCarthy this thing would not come to life.
½ October 18, 2018
A trash film that shits on the legacy of Jim Henson. Should have never been made.
October 5, 2018
This movie stole about 2 hours of my life. Worst movie of the year for sure!!
October 5, 2018
This movie really sucks and it pains me to say that because I had the highest of hopes of it. I was hoping it would be a sort of "roger rabbit" movie showing the interesting parts of what puppets do but the writers blew it and gave us a movie with sex and drug jokes and thats it. There was no character development and I could care less if the happytime gang died at the very beginning, they would have had the same amount of development either way.
October 1, 2018
When my buddy and I saw the trailer for this we got so excited. When we finally went to go see it we were initially the only people there. Which obviously was a bad sign but we didn't care. After the film was over my buddy whispered "I don't know if I liked it or not". After many days of thinking about what he said, I think he is right. This movie is a perfect example of a great concept with poor execution. While I did smile and laugh at a couple scenes (Most notably a cow being screwed by an octopus), I couldn't help but to be bored by most of it. I was really hoping that the film would mostly focus on the racial undertone regarding the puppets. But instead we get a generic and contrived buddy cop movie that has been done millions of times. Not to mention that the two main characters are despicably mean-spirited.
September 30, 2018
Not a fine work of art when it comes to movies, but a fresh take on the puppet movie genre that I found to be a lot of fun.
½ September 29, 2018
I went into this movie really wanting to enjoy it. I should have known something was wrong when I was the only person in the theater. The film felt like a cross between Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Meet the Feebles. Like I said I had high hopes for this movie but maybe laughed two or three times. The best part of the movie IMO is the behind the scenes look while the credits are rolling.
September 27, 2018
Loved it. Not for kids or cry babies.
September 25, 2018
I think this is a funny movie I love it.
September 25, 2018
NEVER SAW IT BUT IT S THE WORST MOVIE OF 2018 ITS LIKE 999999999999999999999999999999999999999 TIMES WORST THAN dog show dogs and spirited away
Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
½ September 23, 2018
The Happytime Murders asks one question on repeat: is something inherently funny just because a puppet does it? As I feared from the marketing, this is strictly a one-joke movie, and that joke being the entire concept of puppets behaving badly.

In a world where puppets and humans live side-by-side, Private Investigator Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta) is investigating a series of grisly murders targeting the stars of a popular children's sitcom. His ex-partner, Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy), is forced to work with Phillips as the bodies and felt pile up. Together they trace the killer amid seedy drug dealers, prostitutes, strippers, and criminals, all of them puppets.

For a depressing majority of the running time, the jokes are simply puppets swearing or puppets being randy. Very rarely will there be more thought given to the gags and setups. This reminded me of Seth MacFarlane's Ted wherein too much of the comedy was centered on a teddy bear doing things we don't normally associate a teddy bear doing. A puppet simply dropping an F-bomb is not a joke, just as a random person dropping an F-bomb is not a joke without some degree of setup and/or context. A puppet smoking is not funny on its own. A puppet drinking is not funny on its own. This is lazy writing that falls back on its surface-level shock value to compensate for the paucity of actual comedy. Too many jokes fizzle on screen, drawing at best the occasional generous chuckle. While you're watching The Happytime Murders, you're quite conscious of the fact that it should be funnier. You can feel the desperation on screen and the disappointment. I kept thinking, "Why did they settle for that joke? Why aren't they doing more with the possibilities of their premise? Oh great, now it's a joke about balls." An R-rated puppet cop movie starring Melissa McCarthy should not be this uninspired.

Let's tackle one scene emblematic of the film's best assets and its shortcomings. Early in the first act, our puppet P.I. visits a puppet porn store/theater/film set. As soon as he enters, the curtain is pulled back and we see an octopus vigorously milking a cow's udders, milky geysers freely spraying everywhere amid giddy cries. It's a memorable visual with obvious sexual connotations and it's one of the better moments to convey some degree of thought as far as developing the world of puppets. But then the scene just keeps going without any new development or complication. And then it keeps going. And then you realize that the filmmakers tapped out with the visual and had nothing else. The sequence at the porn store/theater/film set keeps sliding in more debauchery, especially with clips from an array of fetish films, a notable example being a fireman whipped by a Dalmatian dominatrix. Then in short order it becomes a murder scene and the fluff flies everywhere. Once again it becomes readily apparent how poorly handled the development process was with this film. There are puppets fighting, puppets doing drugs, puppets even having sex, but are there comic scenarios here? Infrequently. Without better crafting, the shock value naturally loses its impact and then the film gives up. It's front loaded with the most memorable transgressions, and then it settles into a fairly mediocre cop movie that you have to remind yourself is a comedy because... puppets?

Instead, what the viewer gets is pretty much a standard cop movie with some film noir elements emphasized as reference. There is some half-hearted commentary about discrimination against puppets and how they're seen as second-class citizens (like Bright). This too is dropped after the first act and the movie settles into a second-rate potboiler. If you remove the presence of puppets, too many scenes don't even present humor. It's more a cop movie than it is a comedy, and that realization perplexed and disappointed me. The lazy, crude sexual humor is a crutch they return to, though with diminished returns, as another attempt to jolt the lagging movie to life. It's a tedious affair where the imagination feels capped. You'll likely be reminded, as I was constantly, of the brilliant Who Framed Roger Rabbit? which tackled film noir tropes and cross-human integration. The difference is that Roger Rabbit thoroughly thought out its characters, plot, world, and satire, and I consider it to be one of the best-written films of all time. With The Happytime Murders, it has to resort to a Basic Instinct legs-crossing gag twice in 2018. This movie desperately needed a few more drafts from better skilled comedy writers to have more entertaining jokes than "puppet does non-puppet stuff."

McCarthy (Life of the Party) is drifting on autopilot, desperately looking for ways to make this enterprise funnier. Her improv intuition runs into conflict with the simple nature that puppeteering demands a lot of preparation, so there are less off-script riffs. This is your standard brash, profane, ball-busting McCarthy performance we've gotten to know but there's not a character here. Even in the realm of simplistic cop movie tropes, she's still never more than the irritable partner who develops a begrudging respect. There is one interesting aspect to her character that the film does so little with. In a flashback, we see that she was critically injured in the line of duty and had to have an emergency puppet liver donation. The only thing ever done with this is the allowance that McCarthy is now able to snort puppet drugs that would ordinarily kill humans. That is it. There's not even a joke related to this fact. It's another example of the film's deficiency of creativity.

The Happytime Murders is a one-joke movie that has far too little imagination. The lewd vulgarity gets boring and becomes indicative of the lazy writing all around, the mere appearance of anything naughty meant to goose the audience into thinking they're watching something really transgressive and provocative. The novelty wears off pretty quickly. Maya Rudolph as a cheerful secretary and the behind-the-scenes end credits were the best parts. What they're really watching is a mediocre cop movie strung together with the flimsiest of genre tropes and a scant chuckle. Without better comedic writing and setups, you're stuck with the story, and that's not a good decision. This is a witless movie that doesn't deserve its premise and is a waste of everyone's time. At my preview screening, I could hear a child's voice behind me and thought, "Oh my, a parent actually brought their child to see this movie? Did they not know?" That child never should have been in that theater, and not because of the raunchy content, but because that child deserved a better movie experience from their parent, a figure of trust.

Nate's Grade: C-
September 19, 2018
If you've seen the trailer, you've seen all of the funny bits.
September 17, 2018
The obvious appeal of this is watching muppets saying and doing raunchy things. Unfortunately, that shtick wears off really fast. I did laugh a few times, but a lot of the humour did not land for me. I didn?t mind how the murder mystery story played out. It?s clear from the blooper reel that the cast and crew had a fun time making this movie, but the final product did not match that enjoyment level.
September 17, 2018
Fantastically funny.
Page 1 of 21