The Happytime Murders is a crime comedy film featuring puppets. That is all you need to know. The main plot focuses on former partners, Philips voiced by, (Bill Barretta) and Edwards, (Melissa McCarthy), who have to work together again to solve a series of murders. The film’s main aim seems to be to disprove the idea that puppets are synonyms with family-friendly fun, why it wants to do this is anyone’s guess. Does it work? Well, that I can answer for you, no it most certainly doesn’t.
Before I carry on, I want to say that I had low expectations for this film; in that regard, the film did manage to surpass my ideas about it, even making me laugh a few times. However, it is not a good film or one I would recommend, simply put, when compared to McCarthy’s other 2018 work, Life of the Party– it is merely a small step up.
First, this is a film no one asked for, throughout the film’s entire runtime it never gave any justification for its existence; beyond being solely for the money. Feeling needless in the worst way.
The plot and story feel like a rehashing of genre tropes, with nothing new added to them, lacking all the charm of other genre films such as the Nice Guys. The screenplay places an emotional significance on the fallout between Edwards and Phillips, even having flashbacks. These are to little effect as each emotional beat of the arc feels played out and predictable. This is not helped at all by the fact that Edwards and Phillips have no chemistry, none, watching their back and forths is often painful and unfunny.
Melissa McCarthy is forgettable and mildly annoying here, she brings very little to the role; with her jokes feeling straight to DVD quality. Conversely, Elizabeth Banks’ portrayal of Jenny, Phillips old flame, is one of the highlights of the film; though she is in my opinion sorely underused. To me, that is the criminal issue with this film, the good elements, such as Banks’ character and the world building, are ignored in favour of the formulaic, generic buddy cop cliches that have been done a million times before.
Finally, the humour of the film is needlessly profane, feeling done just for the sake of it rather than for the comedy. A lot of the jokes in the film will not make you laugh; with it being the serious moments that are often the funniest.
Overall this film fails as it tries overly to be edgy, being bland and boring in the process; nothing more than a collection of the Pulp Detective genre’s worst tropes. Not worth your time or money.
Reviewed by Luke