Happytime Murders: comedy or bad humor?

This image released by STX Films shows the poster art for “The Happytime Murders,” a film starring Melissa McCarthy. A judge in New York has ruled against the makers of “Sesame Street” in a dispute with the distributor of the upcoming film. U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick ruled Wednesday that distributor can continue to use the tagline “No sesame. All street” in promoting the R-rated film, which features Muppet-like puppets in a comedic crime story. (STX Films via AP)

The Happytime Murders, released August 24, is a combination of the old school noir detective, self-narrative style and the comedic nature of muppets makes for an odd couple.

The unexpected hodgepodge of movies genres rolled into one has the potential to work well, but fall short. Alex Bailey, a freshman Animal Science major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, thinks that the two genres can’t mix well. He also believes that the Happytime Murders is “an attempt to bring the muppet genre back into the mainstream.”

While watching the story unfold it becomes harder and harder not to call it anything other than predictable. Two seemingly unrelated cases turning out to be two halves to the same puzzle, expendable secondary characters jumping to the forefront while the main protagonist is indisposed, and the final confrontation as the antagonist makes their getaway are all done in a way that makes it seem as though the writers thought the premise of muppets was unique enough in and of itself.

Gratuitous violence and sex jokes are what carry the film for the most part, and even those only warrant a brief chuckle at best. There’s nothing inherently wrong about a sex joke, but when they just keep coming one after another there is an issue. Where is the originality, the creativity, or the imagination?

World Civilization and American History instructor, Professor Glynn, was very disappointed at the trailer for the film. “I just believe it’s very low-brow, crude humor,” he said, initially having been somewhat speechless.

Some socio-political commentary is sprinkled throughout, but the story being told as it is leaves no room for nuance. That isn’t to say that comedic films can not have intelligent commentary, just that this one does not. In any case, the film touches on issues such as economic disparities, racial, and gendered issues.

The muppets are referred to by humans as “Socks,” a clear parallel to racial slurs in today’s world. There are sock ghettos, drugs specifically used by Muppets, and even equivalents to plastic surgery in getting fabrics bleached to lighter shades.

While the cast isn’t exactly stacked with what the average movie goer might see as powerhouses of comedy, their talents still feel wasted on this project.

When the likes of Maya Rudolph (SNL, Grown Ups) Melissa McCarthy (Mike and Molly, Syp) and Leslie David Baker (The Office, Raven’s Home) come together the expectation should be to leave the theatre in tears. Instead, what’s left is a want for more, not necessarily out of their performances, but the characters they play.

Delano Matthews is a Computer Science major from Atlanta, Georgia and believes that the casting for the movie is fantastic. He pointed out that Maya Rudolph and Melissa McCarthy have both had wide success in comedy on the silver screen. However, Matthews said, “The cast doesn’t make the movie, the writing does,” which is something many fans of different film franchises tend to forget in the event a film does not pan out the way they want it to.

Baker’s character of Lieutenant Banning only appears a handful of times, and is simply stuck in the humdrum stereotype of crime scene C.O. wrangling in the loose cannon, no nonsense cops. McCarthy is relegated to the cliche deuteragonist cop begrudgingly working with her former partner.

The Happytime Murders is playing in theatres now.

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