“The Happytime Murders” is an interesting concept of a light-hearted comedy and murder mystery movie involving puppets, although, as the movie progresses, one finds a redemption story that brings up more serious topics like racism, drug abuse and objectification.
The movie’s main character is Phil Philips, a puppet detective played by Brian Henson, who worked for the police force. When looking for evidence on a case, he gets caught up at a crime scene warranting the police to show up. Along with them is his ex-partner Connie Edwards, an actual human, played by Melissa McCarthy. The two trade insults upon seeing each other and mention a past event later about a career ending situation for Philips that had created a bad relationship between him and Edwards.
Throughout the movie there is an overlaying disdain between humans and puppets. Right at the start of the movie there is a scene of a puppet who gets his eye pulled out by a few humans who then proceed to toss it and keep it away from him. Later in the film, Edwards mentions that she did not recognize Phil’s brother because he used to be a lot more blue in color, of which Philips calls her racist.
Various other comments about turning puppets into clothing or other stuffed items are said throughout the movie, as well as more comments against the puppets’ differing skin and hair color. Though while these things are mentioned and are at the forefront of the story, it’s used as a character building device for Philips as well as the general puppet population in the movie. The audience can then see the relationship between humans and puppets because of this, in order to further the story.
Another thing that becomes apparent throughout the film is drug abuse by multiple characters. Though with the comedy element, the drug featured is sugar in high doses, of which can only be taken by the puppets because of their high tolerance for it. This is shown when the characters are seen in an environment ridden with drugs and gambling that is later visited by the detective and cop duo for investigation. While it is not a major part of the big mystery of the film, it is shown in the story as a comedy element.
There are many points throughout the movie that include women in a sexual context. Whether they were a puppet or human, these women were shown working in highly sexualized ways. Additionally, Edwards is not treated as an equal to her male counterparts in the force, especially by the chief of police in the film, though the reason for the treatment is later explained in the movie.
The main theme, however, was detective Philips’ want for redemption, as he was in the police force but made a mistake that ended his career. While Edwards and Philips had a bad relationship at the start, throughout the movie the two begin rekindling their friendship and the moment for Philips to fix his mistake arises.
While the movie was filled with serious topics it was comical and an interesting story as well. I think people would enjoy going to see it even with things previously mentioned present in the film. Overall, “The Happytime Murders” is a funny, “who done it” style film with adult themes. It is certainly rated R for a reason, so consider this if you decide to go see the film — which I highly recommend you do.
Tiffani Watteyne is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @tiffanirosew.