Melissa McCarthy in a scene from The Happytime Murders.
Melissa McCarthy in a scene from The Happytime Murders. Supplied

MOVIE REVIEW: Happytime Murders is a mucky Muppets movie

THOUGH the makers of this audaciously abrasive hybrid of feelbad crime thriller and feel-even-worse crass comedy cannot actually come out and say it, anybody else with eyes can see what is going on here.

This is a Muppet movie by any other name.



What's more, it is a Muppet movie playing the big, blue adult-humour card for wildly varying results. (There are some big laughs here. But just as many huge silences.)

This image released by STX Entertainment shows Joel McHale in a scene from
Agent Campbell (Joel McHale) gets a face full of smoke from Phil Philips (voiced by Bill Barretta) in The Happytime Murders.

The Happytime Murders is the work of Brian Henson (son of the late creator of the Muppets, Jim Henson), who has used a very familiar style of puppet design to propel this project.

Though the script was once officially sanctioned by the keepers of the Muppets flame when it was first penned over a decade ago, it has since been disowned to the point it has almost become litigious.

It is not hard to see why. This is not the kind of place where Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy would dare show their face.

This image released by STX Entertainment shows Elizabeth Banks in a scene from
Elizabeth Banks in a scene from The Happytime Murders.

Henson Jnr imagines a gritty, grotty world where his Muppet-like miscreants are into kinky sex, hard drugs, contract killings and, if the chance arises, more kinky sex.

While the shock value does wear off all too soon, a plot concerning the mysterious deaths of the stars of a children's TV show from the 1980s does hold the attention throughout.

It must also be conceded that the movie also impresses on a technical level, particularly for the very convincing (on occasion, way too convincing) way in which the human cast (led by an OK-for-a-change Melissa McCarthy) interact with their seedy puppet co-stars.

No strings attached, no taste required



Rating: Two and a half stars (2.5 out of 5)

Director: Brian Henson (Muppet Treasure Island)