Alongside the release of Deadpool 2, STX Entertainment has released the first trailer for their upcoming adult-oriented puppet-noir film from the Jim Henson Company, The Happytime Murders. Written by Todd Berger and directed by Brian Henson, The Happytime Murders has been advertised as a Muppets version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and had languished in development hell for years before finally being picked up by STX Entertainment. The good news is that there’s finally a trailer and hard proof that this film actually exists. The bad news is that the trailer is a hot mess. Like, it’s a really bad trailer, both in terms of pure entertainment/quality and also being an accurate representation of the film. According to Wikipedia, the plot of the film is as follows:
In a world where puppets co-exist with humans as second class citizens, Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta), puppet private eye and disgraced ex-cop, is hot on the trail of the serial killer who murdered his brother and is now targeting the cast members of the 1980s television series The Happytime Gang. As the killings continue, Jenny (Elizabeth Banks), Phil’s former flame, is next on the list. It’s up to Phil and Detective Edwards (Melissa McCarthy), his ex-partner, to find the culprit, but as bad blood and old resentments resurface, the clues start pointing to the only viable suspect: Phil himself. Now he’s on the run with only his wits and hard-headed determination as he and his partner attempt to solve the Happytime Murders.
Now, was any of this actually made apparent by the trailer? (Hint: no.) Instead of the dark(ish), film noir style film that’s been promised since this project first started being discussed, what we got was a film trying hard to have “edgy” humor and landing so flat on its face that the ground it landed on now features a permanent implant of its face. I mean, the humor in this trailer is as low as you can possibly get. Multiple jokes about Melissa McCarthy looking like a man, a scene of a puppet stomping on a dude’s genitals, and an extended joke about puppet sex. Seriously, that joke goes on for about thirty seconds too long (and even then, it’s a bad joke, to begin with). I mean, how do you go from a film with such beautiful, moody concept art like the ones featured in this post to a film that’s advertising campaign begins with the trailer that was just released? It’s like the movie underwent heavy rewrites from its inception through its filming.
It’s a real shame because I was genuinely excited about this movie. It’s got a really good cast and a really good premise. Unfortunately, both seem to be wasted on a crummy script. Regardless, The Happytime Murders comes out August 17, 2018, if this trailer didn’t totally turn you off from watching it.