‘The Happytime Murders’, starring Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Joel McHale and Elizabeth Banks is definitely not for the kids. Director, Brian Henson, son of Jim Henson, and the director of ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’, has created a movie that will leave you wondering if Jim Henson would have allowed this if he were still alive.
I’m not against this type of street-smart, hybrid updating of a cosy brand, but for the generations that grew up loving the “Muppets” and ‘Sesame Street’, this will shock you. Imagine Mickey Mouse exposing himself to you in a park or imagine your Grandmother, that sweet lady who personifies old-fashioned standards, ripping her top off to reveal her breasts, whilst screaming profanities at you, and swigging from a bottle of cheap cider. That’s what Brian Henson has done to the ‘Muppets’.
Melissa McCarthy has starred in some great movies. ‘The Heat’ with Sandra Bullock was fantastic, but I’m just not sure about this one. I get the joke is the Muppets have a crude, foul-mouthed side, that they’re just like humans, but that joke could wear thin when repeated throughout the movie. For me, McCarthy always delivers a great comic performance, and in this, I see no reason to doubt the casting directors choice, but she does seem to divide opinion on whether she is actually funny or not. I’m a fan, so I’m on side.
The tagline “No Sesame. All Street” is genius, but the movie is packed with scenes that feel like they’ve earned their place for shock value only. The sex scene in the puppet-cops office springs to mind.
‘The Happytime Murders’ is ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’ for the new generation, but ‘Roger Rabbit’ was gentle and fun. It didn’t stub out the cigarette butt of nostalgia in the face of its audience and then urinate on them. Brian Henson has done exactly that to ‘The Muppets’, which is a real shame.
Is it funny? I’m sure it will please some, but the problem is, I just keep thinking about Mickey Mouse exposing himself.