The Happytime Murders

Aug 26, 2018

Blue and funny at times with not enough McCarthy.

The Happytime Murders

Grade: B-

Director: Brian Henson (The Muppet Christmas Carol)

Screenplay: Todd Berger (It’s a Disaster)

Cast: Melissa McCarthy(Bridesmaids), Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect)

Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hr 31 min

by John DeSando

“I ruptured my hymen.” Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy)

Puppets and people mix well enough in The Happytime Murders, directed by Brian Henson, son of puppet master Jim Henson. In the real world, different races and different people blend not so much. As allegory, it’s a fun mix with a darkly comedic overtone.

Detective Edwards (a “meat sack,” as humans are called) investigates a series of puppet murders tied to an ‘80’s kids show like Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. That she has a transplanted puppet liver adds a nice absurdist touch, and the laughs, while predominantly raunchy (see introductory quote), have an ingenuity and in one sex scene, a downright inspiration of raunchy silliness.

Yet as a friend pointed out, this is puppet porn, and new place to park our dark comedic side while the parallels to contemporary issues abound. Actually, the homage to film noir is just as juicy as the potty puppet ambience while the racist allegory is muted.

What’s missing is more of Melissa, a comic genius, whose wisecracking comments go perfectly with her dimples and her puppets. When she goes word to word with noirish detective Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta), it’s laugh-out-loud screwball.

Happytime Murders is an R rated film, and deservedly so; bring children at their peril and yours, of course, when your significant other finds out where you’ve taken the kids. The film is not a heavy comment on class or race as in Roger Rabbit, but “amusing” is an appropriate adjective for an eccentric conceit and a dark blue script.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at