When the puppet cast of an ’80s children’s TV show begin to get murdered one by one, a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private eye puppet takes on the case.
Welcome to Los Angeles, the “City of Angels” as the city’s nickname goes. Except now, angels don’t walk the streets alongside people. Puppets do—colorful, whimsical to the eye and seemingly ready to combust into song at any moment. Even then the Happytime days (in reference to a television program in which humans and puppets coincide, not unlike Sesame Street) don’t live in the comforts of mankind but are instead exiled to life on the street. It’s the hard-knock life for a puppet these days, so the film The Happytime Murders suggest.Okay, I kid. There’s nothing to be taken that seriously about The Happytime Murders as the reading like a Raymond Chandler novel might suggest. The film, after, thrusts itself at the screen as a raunchy, deprived, all-out and anything-goes comedy/mystery extravaganza. Neither, unfortunately, is what we get. The raunch is not endearing or even slightly humorous. The mystery is boring and uninspired. Worst off, it affirms nothing of the productions in its similar style before it. To this, I reference Avenue Q, the smash musical from 2002, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Robert Zemeckis’ 1988 comic/film noir hit. The former featured (on stage, if you can imagine it) mostly friendly monsters (a loose term, in comparison to Sesame Street) with deeper dimensions than one would find on any PBS children’s program: desires and vices too extreme for young audiences. The outcome was funny, fresh, in a time when older puppet shows were on the verge of becoming a thing of the past. Roger Rabbit changed the game, for its time, with incredible special effects and a whodunit story achieved with taste. The Happytime Murders does neither of these courses justice. As raunchy and inorganically funny as it tries to be, it can’t touch the greater relevancy achieved by Avenue Q. Nor does it celebrate beloved puppet characters and their traditions like Roger Rabbit. The film just keeps going and going, digging and digging, pathetically trying to make a unique name for itself. Perhaps some may see it as unfair to compare the film to others before it. But the issue at large is that it offers nothing, and yet somehow manages to throw so much emptiness at the screen for an hour and a half. The Happytime Murders is not Dove Approved, obviously.
The Dove TakeDove hopes people reject this film completely, and refuse to encourage such idiotic productions.