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The Happytime Murders: A Movie Review

Updated on September 24, 2018
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The first step is to know what you do not know. The second step is to ask the right questions. I reserve the right to lean on my ignorance.

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We're Not in Sesame Street Anymore, Toto!

I want to start by saying that this film is yet another triumph for the immensely talented and utterly adorable Melissa McCarthy. She continues to be, obviously, well-served by her agents and/or her own sound judgment in choosing varied and interesting projects that showcase her considerable performing skill set to its very best effect.

Well, in this universe puppets are completely self-driven, independent and free-willed sentient beings, who inhabit the Earth alongside humans, in something less than perfect harmony, however.

The puppets are squeaky clean, adorable, and fuzzy wuzzy for the children watching the family and kid-friendly programs on television, and so forth. But after hours, as it were, we see that the puppets live much the same kind of complicated, sordid, beautiful, violent, tragic, triumphant, weak, resolute, sensual, and peculiar lives that we humans do.

I am so anxious for you to go see this film and be surprised by it, that I shall not discuss it in as much depth as I might normally do.

You look at the picture above and think that this film will be light, harmless, and a bit of silly fun. I promise you, however, that this movie is not nearly as harmless, light, or silly as that picture or any trailer you might have seen, would have you believe.

This film is surprisingly dark, gritty in an eccentric way, and morally complicated. There are times, while watching this film, when I almost forgot I was watching puppets. And yet, somehow, this was exactly the right way to tell this particular story. You see, there is something that happens with the Melissa McCarthy character that convinced me, oddly enough, that the puppet motif was precisely the right way to tell this particular story.

Melissa McCarthy is Detective Connie Edwards of the Los Angeles Police Department. The puppet to her left (in the picture above) is private investigator Phil Philips, formerly the partner of Detective Edwards.

You see, there is a reason that Philips is no longer on the Force. Years ago, Edwards and Philips were arresting some low-life street criminals of some variety. It seems that one of them "got the drop," as it were, on Detective Edwards (Melissa McCarthy. The thug grabbed her from behind and held his gun to her head.

There was nothing to do for Detective Philips but to shoot bad guy, as Melissa McCarthy was urging him to do. So he takes the shot... and misses! (But believe me, the situation is even more complicated than that; but I shall not spoil things for you).

Detective Edwards (McCarthy) manages to overpower the assailant, though she suffers a gunshot wound.

Stop.

Fast-forward a few months later and Detective Edwards testifies against her partner, Detective Phil Philips. Somehow, the idea that emerges from this hearing is that --- wait for it --- "PUPPETS WON'T SHOOT OTHER PUPPETS!"

Stop.

Fast-forward several years, and Phil Philips is established as a Humphrey Bogart-type portraying Sam Spade "private eye." In fact, the actor who plays puppet Phil Philips, Bill Barretta, does a fair imitation of Humphrey Bogart portraying another private eye, Sam Spade [Think Maltese Falcon (1941)].

We also find that there is a certain antagonism and bitterness between Connie Edwards (human) and Phil Philips (puppet).

And yet...

And yet...

And yet there is something that happened at the time of the shooting (remember, Detective Edwards did receive a gunshot wound) --- that serves as the bridge to the reconciliation and the returned and rejuvenated friendship of Detective Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) and Phil Philips (the puppet) --- when "activated," you might say, as they embark on the adventure to uncover the stalker/killer of the old Happytime gang (a television show in that universe).

I am not going to name this "thing" because I don't want to spoil it for you. Suffice it to say, here, that this "thing" contributes to a complicated personal reality that Detective Edwards lives after the incident.

Again, please recall that I said that this film is gritty in an eccentric way. I mean precisely that.

Anyway, I recommend this movie without reservation. It gets a strong 8 out of 10 from me.

Thank you for reading!



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