Search
3D 5th Wave 70s Culture 80s Cinema A Night of Horror AAustralian film Action Activism Adaptation Adelaide Film Festival Adventure Advocacy African American Age of Adaline AI albanian Alien Abduction alien covenant aliens Alpha alt-right altzheimers amazon Amitabh Bachchan Animal Animation anime anthology Anti-vaxx Ari Gold Art Asia Pacific Screen Awards Asian Cinema Australian film AV Industry Avengers Bad Robot BDSM Beach Boys Berlinale BFG Bianca Biasi Big Hero 6 Biography Biopic Blade Runner Blake Lively B-Movies Bollywood Breast Cancer Brian Wilson Brisbane Bruce Willis Camille Keenan Canadian Cancer candyman Cannes cannibalism Cannon Films Cesars CGI Chapman To Character Actors Charlie Hunnam Charlize Theron Chemsex China Lion Chinese Chloe Grace Moretz Chris Hemsworth Chris Pratt Christchurch christian cinema christmas Christopher Nolan Classic Cinema Clint Eastwood Close Encounters Cloverfield Comedy Coming-of-Age Conor McGregor Conspiracy Controversy Crowd-sourced Cult Cure Dakota Johnson Dance Academy Dardennes Brothers darth vader Debut Deepika Padukone Depression Disaster Movies Disney Diversity Documentary doomsday Dr Moreau drama Dunkirk Dustin Clare Dystopic EL James eli roth Elizabeth Banks Entourage Environmental Epic Erotic Cinema Extra-terrestrial Extreme Sports faith-based Family Film Fantasy Father Daughter Feminism Fifty Shades of Grey Film Film Festival Foreign found footage French Cinema Friendship Fusion Technology Gareth Edwards Gay Cinema Ghostbusters Ghosts Golan Globus Gothic Graphic Novel green inferno Guardians of the Galaxy Guillermo del Toro Gun Control Hacker Hailee Steinfeld Han Solo Happiness Harrison Ford Harry Dean Stanton Hasbro Haunted house Hhorror Himalaya Hitchcock Hollywood
Saturday
Aug252018

SO WE'VE SETTLED ON THE WORST FILM OF THE YEAR THEN...?

The trailer primed the target demo (are ‘college stoners’ still a thing?) for The Happytime Murders to be the laugh-riot comedy experience of the year. Well, the reviews are in and…um, it isn’t.

Directed by heir to the Muppet throne Brian Henson (pictured, below) as the first bigscreen volley of his adult-skewing Henson Alternative corporate off-shoot, The Happytime Murders works over old-school private-eye tropes against the backdrop of an imagined LA where humans and puppets share a fragile co-existence; the film opens with a couple of moments of anti-puppet prejudice, suggesting a social commentary on racism may have once been on the cards (doesn’t happen). The script is the sophomore effort from Todd Berger, a part-time actor who earlier this year saw his debut feature Cover Versions (which he also directed) premiere DOA.  

The central character is grumpy gumshoe Phil Phillips, a visually uninteresting protagonist voiced by veteran ‘teer Bill Barretta, who is matched up with Melissa McCarthy (who shoulders some blame, having confirmed in a SlashFilm interview that she did a pass on the script after signing on) to solve a series of murders relating to…stuff, who cares? There is a nympho puppet and a lot of drug-addled puppets, meaning there’s lots of ‘hilarious’ puppet sex and puppet drug-taking. There is Elizabeth Banks working hard with no material, Joel McHale bringing nothing and Maya Rudoplh doing her best, but that’s it really.

Any hope that this might be an R-rated Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (or even this years Ted, because we need more films like Ted) quickly faded when reviews began to drop. One of the first to wield the hate-pen was Anthony O’Connor’s diatribe for the Australian site FilmInk, in which he lyrically states that watching the film is akin to, “being shot in the face with an icy cold blast of humour-retardant chemicals.”

International critics began to muster their best worst opinions. The gentlest barbs came from NPR’s Scott Tobias (“…the pace sags like Kermit’s limbs”); ReelViews’ James Berardinelli (“Everything about the movie is stunted…”); CNN.com’s Brian Lowry (…the puerile humour yields diminishing returns”); and, US Weekly’s Mara Reinstein (“…a witless comedy with poorly executed ideas…”). The nicest thing Variety's Andrew Barker said was the film resembled an, "adolescent YouTube sketch."

A heavier arsenal of negative commentary was launched by Johnny Oleksinski of The New York Post, who called it a “cliché-ridden, laughless bore” under the headline "...the most miserable puppet show ever"; Simon Miraudo of Student Edge surmised, “This is the worst thing any of the actors have been affiliated with.”; Derek Smith at Slant labeled it a, “relentless onslaught of puerile awfulness.” Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune nailed it, declaring, “The Happytime Murders is a one-joke movie, minus one joke.”

Henson’s derided film has stumbled to a frankly astonishing 22% on Rotten Tomatoes at press time. The Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Schreck backed it, saying, “It’s more than funny enough…”, while Aussie Matt Neal of ABC Radio called it an “ambitious cult-classic-in-waiting.” Advocates will point out it’s not even the worst reviewed film of the week, let alone the year; hitting Australian cinemas is Slender Man, an anaemic horror effort that has somehow conjured a 9% RT rating.

Ok, sure, but what seems to be the main theme of the wave of dud reviews is that The Happytime Murders is arguably 2018’s greatest floundering of talent and opportunity. Henson and his creative team weren’t re-inventing the wheel; bad taste puppet/people comedies have worked before, notably Peter Jackson’s cult classic Meet the Feebles. Everything was in place to suggest this could have worked too, if the slightest bit of inspiration, energy and ambition had been employed. It wasn’t, leaving a piss-weak puppet-noir bore made worse by crass, cringe-worthy crudity.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>
« THE BURT REYNOLDS 'COLD STREAK' | Main | THE STORY SO FAR...: TARANTINO'S ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD »