This movie is easily in my top five comedies and certainly in my top fifty films, but not for the reasons you may think.
Let’s set aside the boilerplate film noir template the script rests on and the one nagging question I have (which I will not reveal here because of spoilers). The reason I love this film is from a technical standpoint. Because of this film, we have The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
We see the muppets everywhere. We can see them walk down the street. We see them standing at bus stops. We see them dancing. For some of you younger people out there, this might not seem to be a big deal, but for us old people who grew up watching Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. We rarely saw them from the waist down. It was always behind walls, or in trash cans talking to people. Now, thanks to better green screen technology and computers assisting in cleaning up the images, we have a more engaging world between muppets and humans.
However, all of that tech is there to support the story. Like I said, it’s a film noir plot out of Double Indemnity and The Maltese Falcon. It borrows from those two films and a little from Basic Instinct. It’s a movie to watch several times because it sets up the rules of the world in a few scenes, but they’re not wasted for gags. They’re there to set up the plot further down the road. People keen on the Law of Chekhov’s Gun will do well to watch this film.
Other people who would be keen to see this movie are fans of very raunchy comedy (there is a scene with a cow that needs to be seen to be believed). I have never laughed so hard in my life – I had swimming black spots in my vision for a few minutes. The best performance goes to Melissa McCarthy. Mrs. McCarthy was criminally underused in the Ghostbusters reboot, and The Happytime Murders proved it. She played her character as acerbic and strung out, but she comes around helps the protagonist in the end. Again – very boilerplate, but well acted. This movie was never in contention for the Oscars when it was released, but not every movie has to be emotive knuckle-biting. In fact, it was panned by the critics, winning several “Worst Movie of the Year” for 2018.
Seriously, what do critics know?
If you’re just looking for a comedy that requires little thought, this is one to consider. Granted, there are more technically adept films out there, and much better film noir offerings to see. I haven’t even gotten to my favorite comedy of all time yet (but that’s soon), but this isn’t what the critics like and approve of for the unwashed masses. This is about what I like and why. So, go out there and rent The Happytime Murders. Watch it with your favorite person and a tray of sugar.