Ex-cop, turned private eye Phil Philips (Bill Barretta) stumbles into a murder crime scene whilst on a case. His ex-partner Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) has reason to dislike him, but needs his help solving the crime because of his links to the case. So far, so normal? Well, Phil is a puppet and The Happytime Murders is set in a world where humans and puppets live side by side. And the puppets are very lewd!
Directed by Brian Henson, son of Jim Henson the puppet pedigree on display here is impressive. The idea of puppets swearing and having sex has been done before in Peter Jackson’s Meet The Feebles, before he became a renowned director with Lord of the Rings. What is interesting here though is the added element of them living in the human world just like the Muppets do.
The film, whilst technically interesting does fall quite short of being enjoyable to watch though. The cop turned PI storyline is generic so the key to success here is how funny you will find the film and that boils down to how funny is puppets swearing a lot and making sex jokes? Initially it offers a few chuckles, but after 90 minutes you start to yearn for some substance and you aren’t going to get that with the plot.
I’d love to see the idea done successfully though. Perhaps the key would have been to retool a good detective story into the puppet world than have a bare bones one to fit the idea.