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Review The Happytime Murders (2018): Calm down! Your childhood memories aren't going to be ruined.

genre: action, comedy, crime

When the trailer was announced, some people cried murder. Claiming their childhood was going to be ruined since Brian Henson was set out to destroy his father's legacy. And to be honest. I had mixed emotions myself even though I couldn't help but laugh at some of the sex scenes.

Then it occurred to me that people falsely asssume that puppetry is intended for kids only. People mostly have the same feelings regarding cartoons. And as many anime shows and films have already demonstrated that this is a very wrong notion. Cartoons and puppetry could very well be intended for adults only. And if that is the case people shouldn't be so angry at all. Of course The Happytime Murders is playing with this notion since it does try to shock people. But very much in the same vein as Family Guy does. Also I am wondering why people are so surprised about Brian Henson taking this path. Did they forget about Farscape? It had puppets too. And that show was intended for adults as well.

Problem is that apart from the crude jokes the actual comedy is not that strong. A parody on Basic Instinct for example isn't really that funny. I mean it was nice to recognize the reference and it did serve the plot but other than that it simply didn't make me laugh. Maybe if this film had been released shortly after Basic Instinct it would have had more impact.

Strangely enough if you ignore the comedy elements The Happytime Murders seems more like a buddy cop film where the two unlikely partners are burdened with a murder mystery. As a whodunnit it's pretty decent since they did their best to keep you guessing by for example giving you some effective red herrings. As a buddy cop film however it fails a little since not that much is done with the concept. Although I think it's mostly due to Melissa McCarthy inability to play around with others. I acknowledge that she can be funny at times. But to say she is a comedic genius? I just don't see how. She basically does the same trick over and over again and sometimes it works out and often it doesn't. Still, she wasn't annoying and that is a huge plus.

One very important element that seems to be ignored by critics is the fact that the puppets are being treated like black people in the US. The people view them as second rate citizens at best and even then they feel that the puppets should be happy and jolly to serve their human masters. This issue is rarely being discussed or is part of the plot but it is pointed out at times. And when it does I thought those moments were quite serious and strong. These moments though probably will be lost on the people too focused on the sex scenes. Most people only see what they want to see. And maybe in a way The Happytime Murders brilliantly demonstrates why racism is still an issue in our society. 

Overall The Happytime Murders is not a bad film. It's heavily flawed but has more heart than most recent productions. My advice it to give it a chance at least and you will get more from it.


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