‘The Happytime Murders’ Trailer Takes Puppet Obscenity to a New Climax

We’re not ready to see what goes down when the kids aren’t around.
Happytime Murders
By  · Published on May 18th, 2018

We’re not ready to see what goes down when the kids aren’t around.

Grumpy adults love to pervert their childhood. The revelation that our onetime world of promise inevitably transforms into a disappointing dreck of reality never fails to elicit rage. Mom and Dad lied to us. We cannot grow up to be anything we want. Dreams of wealth resulting from the childhood fantasy of a rock ‘n’ roll fighter pilot astronaut deteriorate in your teen years, and then your idealistic pursuit of the great American novel stumbles into retail hell. Would you like fries with that? Did I just reveal too much about myself?

Watching children giggle at the absurd comic stylings of Daniel Tiger makes you want to rip that ‘toon limb from limb. Can you imagine what it’s like growing up the son of the man who sired The Muppets? For Brian Henson, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy put food on the table. He built his own career around these characters, picking up the baton, and directing his father’s creations in The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, and episodes of the show Muppets Tonight.

After 35 years of entertaining children, it’s time for Brian Henson to let off some steam. The Happytime Murders is his therapeutic assault on the perpetual childhood he’s chained against. Are you ready for his psychological release? Click at your own risk.

Well, I’m light headed.

Detective Melissa McCarthy and puppet P.I. Bill Barretta navigate the seedy underbelly of a wannabe Zoobilee Zoo, hunting down a killer determined to erase the cast members of “The Happytime Gang.” We get plenty of exploding puppet stuffing, crass language, puppet propositions, and waaaaay too much silly string. Brian Henson is determined to crack open his noggin and let out all that pent-up rotten cotton.

Profane porno puppets are nothing new. Before he brought the One Ring to Mordor, Peter Jackson diddled with felt for Meet The Feebles. His nihilistic puppets happily gave into vice, throwing themselves into narcotics and sex to distract from their mundane existence. Avenue Q is a Tony Award-winning stage musical slamming the naive optimism of Sesame Street. More sex and violence is besieged upon blasphemous stand-ins for Bert and Ernie, plus some killer tunes.

While I understand and appreciate the desire to savage the children’s entertainment that was used to coddle our narcissistic fantasies of importance, I don’t like this trailer. Nor do I really like Meet The Feebles or Avenue Q. It makes me feel squidgy. Good job on them. Success. I should feel skeezy, but I’m not the grumpy adult I once was. I’ve passed through my twenties, and my thirties have taught me to admire the innocence of youth. Life is an education in stages.

Let me have my Muppets.

That being said…I couldn’t help myself. The silly string. It’s awful. But dammit, I’ve watched the trailer three times and I’m still laughing as I type this. Brian Henson deserves this cinematic treatment. The Happytime Murders is his exorcism. Who am I to deny him? Those squidgy feelings rippling under my skin might indicate that I need to work out some psychosis myself.

Henson has not taken Kermit out into a field for an Old Yeller. Any time I want to revisit my innocence, I can pop in The Muppets Take Manhattan. The Happytime Murders are here to work on my dark side.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)