‘Happy Time’ almost worth the time

Despite moments of humor, puppet-based film often fell short of its potential

“Happy Time Murders” had promise as a premise. Murder mystery, cop drama, puppets, raunchy humor, an R-rating – it looked to be a recipe for an interesting watch. And it was interesting. Some of the jokes did land, and I came out of the movie feeling like it wasn’t a waste of my time.

The movie is about a down on his luck former LAPD cop turned private detective puppet name Phil Philips who gets caught up in the middle of a murder spree involving the cast of a former TV show cast called The Happy Time Gang.

After being the witness to a couple of the murders, he is tasked to begrudgingly work with his former partner Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) to find the culprit of the crimes.

Phil was one of the highlights of the film. His character was endearing, and I felt for him during his plight. The sex scene involving the client he takes on at the beginning (from the trailer) got a laugh out of me. Maya Rudolph, who plays his assistant Bubbles, also brought some great energy to the film when she was the main focus, and McCarthy had some moments as well.

I have to give the creative team a lot of credit for their fantastic job with the puppetry. The did an outstanding job with both the practical and CGI effects. The movie is worth a view for this alone.

I did, however, find that there was some wasted potential.

The plot felt rushed and all over the place. The characters were inconsistent at times. And some of the humor did feel overused or raunchy for the sake of being raunchy. The conclusion of the movie left more questions than answers, and the resolution was underwhelming.

Overall, I came out of the theater feeling as though this movie had a lot of missed opportunity.

I was never bored throughout my viewing experience, and I was drawn into it through to the end. I just found myself wishing that more effort had been put into making the plot more cohesive, and into further developing of the characters.

If you have an interest in puppetry or have a love for raunchy humor, you might get something out of this movie.