Once again we have another movie that sounds good on paper, maybe even great as a Saturday Night Live sketch, but for a 90-minute feature film, The Happytime Murders is easily one of the worst films of the year by far. In a world where humans and puppets co-exist, puppet private investigator Phil Philips and his partner, Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) team up to find a serial killer who murdered Phil’s brother and other puppets in the city. Simple enough right?
This film couldn’t be more clichéd if it tried. If you have seen the trailer, you know exactly what the gag is. It’s basically an R rated Sesame Street, the gag is puppets saying crude things, using foul language, peppered with some sex and drug use. Setting aside the predictability of the humor, the problem lies with writer Todd Berger, who fails on multiple levels to deliver a competent film. As a comedy, the movie simply isn’t funny. It tried to be as raunchy as a Seth Rogen comedy but isn’t nearly under the influence enough to do so. If you watched Life of The Party with Melissa McCarthy, you have seen her act countless times already and it was stale then and doesn’t change here. The chemistry between her and co-star/puppeteer Phil Philips simply isn’t there taking you out of the reality that this film tries to create. The second problem is that Berger tries to turn this film into a social commentary on classism, racism, and sexism in modern America by portraying the puppets as inferiors. However, none of the commentary sticks when one minute you are trying to create a metaphor for racism and the next minute you have sex jokes with puppet prostitutes making your message both pompous and ridiculous.
It’s quite mind-blowing to think that this film has been in development for over 10 years and no one thought of how to evolve this concept past the basic idea. The best idea in the film was the editors keeping this under 90 minutes. If you want a movie that knows how to make this concept work Team America: World Police is the movie for you because The Happytime Murders is nothing more than a one-note bore full of poor writing and a lead actress whose shtick is far past tired.