US, China / 91 minutes / color / STX Entertainment, Huayi Brothers, Black Bear, TMP, On the Day, Henson Alternative, Jim Henson Company Dir: Brian Henson Pr: Brian Henson, Jeffrey Hayes Scr: Todd Berger Story: Todd Berger, Dee Austin Robertson Cine: Mitchell Amundsen Puppetry: Kevin Clash (Puppet Captain), Dorien Davies, Alice Dinnean, Jayden Libran, Drew Massey, Ten Michaels, Colleen Smith, Allan Trautman, Victor Yerrid Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks, Maya Rudolph, Leslie David Baker, Joel McHale, Cynthy Wu, Michael McDonald Voice cast: Bill Barretta, Dorien Davies, Kevin Clash, Victor Yerrid, Drew Massey, Allan Trautman.
Owing far more of a conceptual debt to WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT (1988) than it might care to admit, The Happytime Murders is set in an alternate Los Angeles where humans and puppets live alongside each other, although with puppets being generally discriminated against and treated as lesser beings. While its precursor, which specifically references the real-life circumstances underpinning CHINATOWN (1974), is open to reading as a piece of neonoir, albeit a decidedly oddball one, The Happytime Murders is more of a gambol through the clichés, including noirish ones, of the Hollywood school of crime movies, including erotic thrillers and other direct-to-video effusions. (There’s also the occasional direct reference to well known cinematic precursors, such as to Sharon Stone’s sartorial revelation in 1992’s BASIC INSTINCT.)
A dozen years ago Phil Philips (voiced by Barretta) was the only puppet cop in the LAPD, partnered with Continue reading