Saturday 25 August 2018

Film Review: The Happytime Murders

Avenue Q meets Chinatown in the worst film of the year, as Melissa McCarthy stumbles through the latest in a long line of flops. 

Directed by Brian Henson (son of Jim) and penned by Todd Berger, The Happytime Murders centres around a simple premise; take a generic crime noir that concerns itself with murder, drugs and booze and sub half of the human cast for colourful, fuzzy puppets. 

When the trailer for The Happytime Murders first appeared on YouTube, I rolled my eyes at the sheer stupidity of it all. It felt like a parody trailer, like that Crocodile Dundee revival/Superbowl commercial with Danny McBride from earlier in the year or the (admittedly great) spoofs that play before Tropic Thunder – because, let’s be honest, is its premise any less stupid than Tugg Speedman’s Scorcher VI? 

Alas, it was a real film. A real film that stars Melissa McCarthy as a loud, foul-mouthed LAPD detective and Bill Barretta as Phil Philips, a shabby, washed-up, chain-smoking, De Niro-esque private eye puppet, who are partnered together when a vicious killer starts popping off puppets across Los Angeles. 

The glaring flaw of The Happytime Murders presents itself within the first 10-15 minutes. Namely, how does a film that essentially uses a College Humour premise sustain itself for a whole 90 minutes? The tone, the gags and the novelty soon wear thin – the only arrow in its quiver is ‘hey, aren’t these crude and horny puppets a gas?!’ The script is boring, the jokes are lame and the puppetry itself is nothing to write home about. 

As a tight Adult Swim or Saturday Night Live skit, The Happytime Murders would work a treat. Its cast of comedians – Maya Rudolph, Elizabeth Banks, Joel McHale – would no doubt relish the opportunity to sink their teeth into a goofy and crass send up where The Muppets meets LA Confidential. But as a feature film, the only thing less funny than The Happytime Murders is someone sticking his (or her) hand up your ass.

The Verdict: 2/10

Desperately unfunny and strangely unimaginative, The Happytime Murders is a massive wasted opportunity. Undoubtedly fun to make; less so watching it play out. 

The Happytime Murders is in cinemas across Australia now.

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