The Happytime Murders - Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray / Media Reviews' started by Michael Scott, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    The Happytime Murders


    [​IMG]
    Movie: :3stars:
    Video: :4stars:
    Audio: :3.5stars:
    Extras: :3stars:
    Final Score: :3.5stars:



    [​IMG] Movie

    Most of us who think about Jim Hensen think of The Muppets, or Dark Crystal, or even Labyrinth. He was a legendary man who created so much joy in kid’s lives with his films. His son, Brian, has continued on with his father’s legacy, infusing puppetry and magic into films like Muppets Treasure Island, Muppets Christmas Carol, and adult fare such as Farscape (probably my favorite Sci-fi series ever). But nobody thought we’d ever see the day that Brian Henson creates a full on raunch comedy with muppet like puppets in vein of Sausage Party. Well, I don’t care. I saw the trailer and I HAD to see the movie in theaters, even though I was pretty sure it was going to be awful. My expectations were met, as the movie is one of the lower tier Henson productions I have ever seen, but it’s also insanely bizarre and hilarious in a guilty pleasure sort of way. Where else can you see Muppet puppets doing all sorts of debauched and R-rated stuff except in The Happytime Murders?, the answer is nowhere. The film itself is crummy, but the film had me rolling in the aisles laughing, despite full well acknowledging that it is a terrible movie.

    Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta) is living in a post “coming out” world, where puppets are no longer slaves to human kind, but rather living out in the open free as a bird. Or at least PARTIALLY free, as the movie plays light with the idea of segregation, forcing the puppets to live with a stigma upon them as a “sub” class of beings. Phil was once a NY city cop, but is now forced to live as a scummy Private Investigator, having to watch husbands cheating on their wives and the like for scraps. That is until a dame walks into his office named Sandra (Dorien Davies). Sandra has note claiming blackmail, making her pay $350,000 in exchange for silence of an affair Sandra had with a human. Phil reluctantly takes the case, and his nose sniffs it’s way to an adult store where he’s privy to a group murder, including a washed up celebrity puppet who was once a member of the hit show The Happytime Gang.

    However, the murders are just getting started, and as Phil goes deeper and deeper into the case he begins to realize that these murders are interconnected. The Happytime Gang cast members are all being targeted, and when Phil’s brother Larry (who was also on The Happytime Gang) gets murdered, it’s time to pull out the big guns. Sadly he’s forced to work with his old police partner Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) by the NYPD, which is a bit of a strain due to the fact that the two of them have bad blood when Connie’s testimony got him kicked off the force.
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    If anything, The Happytime Murders is a fantastic example of Brian Hensen going full Sausage Party for once. He always had a bit of dark and twisted side (Farscape is the perfect example of that in mainstream TV culture), but here he goes completely off the rails with a debauched display of everything nasty you can do and say with a puppet. Also, I was wildly impressed with how far the technology has come. The puppets actually move and shift around the stage naturally, and you don’t have to worry about only seeing them from the waist up as there’s no need for a puppet master to have it’s hand up a puppet’s hindquarters to manipulate. Sometimes it gets a bit wonky, but you honestly can’t see any strings or manipulations anywhere (at least I didn’t).

    The bad thing is, the plot is pretty weak. The film starts out ok, with enough shock humor and vulgarity to have you laughing, but as the movie goes on the plot’s weaknesses start rearing their ugly heads, complete with transparent plot twists and trying to get “too serious” for it’s own good. Despite all this, I was dying in the aisles for some reason, and as a fan of raunchy comedies, I had a blast. Personally I find films like Sausage Party to be better movies, but this was a unique mess that is definitely a guilty pleasure to watch.




    Rating:

    Rated R for strong crude and sexual content and language throughout, and some drug material




    Video: :4stars:
    [​IMG]Supposedly The Happytime Murders was shot digitally at 8K, but then transferred to home video at 2K (some of my contacts have mentioned that it may have been due to the blending techniques used for blending the puppets in with real life characters and backdrops), but the Blu-ray looks rather good. There’s some mild softness around the edges of the puppets and some sharpness issues, but overall this is a really great looking Blu-ray. Backgrounds and busy city streets are appropriately detailed, but the real joy to watch is the intricate look of the puppets. You can see individual lines of fur on their faces, as well as seamless transitions from sitting up to sitting down, and the COMPLETE lack of any strings or attachments to shake away the facade that humans and puppets live in the same world. Blacks are very impressive, with good shadow detail when Melissa McCarthy’s character is going into the underground worlds, and the bright sunlit shots are exquisite. It’s a solid looking disc for sure, and one we’re sadly going to have to make do with instead of a 4K release (which would have really benefited with good HDR, as the colors are simply fantastic in the film).






    Audio: :3.5stars:
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    Despite coming with a beefy 7.1 DTS-HD MA encode, The Happytime Murders is a surprsingly light and mild mix. It’s the halfway point of the movie before an actual explosion happens, and most of the work is done in the front three speakers. The surrounds get some mild ambiance in the adult shop at the beginning of the film (even though the gunshots are a bit restrained), and the hubbub of the underground meeting with the sugar snorting had laughter and mumbling coming in from those surround speakers. Other than that, the track is rather laid back and pedestrian in the way it handles itself. Action is pretty solid, with good directional movements during the final fight, and dialog is always well defined and evenly distributed. The 7.1 mix is certainly very serviceable and clean, it’s just rather laid back and calm for a film of this type, and a track with that many channels. Kind of an “overkill” with the extra channels.





    Extras: :3stars:
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    Feature Commentary with Director Brian Henson and voice actor Bill Barretta
    • Deleted Scenes
    • Gag Reel
    • Line-O-Rama
    • Virtual Environments: Go behind the scenes to see the transformation of the film's virtual environments including visual effects through backdrops, action scenes, and the movements of the puppets themselves.
    • Avatars Demo: VFX supervisors discuss how The Happytime Murders created a new realm of puppet movies by using avatars to make the puppets come to life.
    • VFX Breakdown: An overview of the impact of visual special effects in the film.
    • Theatrical Trailers









    Final Score: :3.5stars:


    The Happytime Murders is rude, crude, disgustingly raunchy, and mind blowingly stupid, but somehow I ended up having a blast with it. Brian Hensen goes balls to the walls with the insanity of making an R-rated muppets style movie, and does so with obvious gusto. Sadly the second half suffers a little bit as the insanity wears off a little bit as they try to make the plot actually go somewhere. While it’s a trainwreck by all accounts, it’s the perfect example of a guilty pleasure being that I ended up laughing myself almost hoarse in the theaters. This is pure bottom feeder gutter humor at it’s finest, and even though not being on the top of the heap, is certainly fun if you want to see muppet puppets doing every debauched and insane thing that you could possibly think of. Guilty Pleasure Watch for sure.



    Technical Specifications:

    Starring: Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks, Leslie David Baker, Joel McHale, Cynthy Wu, Michael McDonald, Mitch Silpa, Bill Barretta
    Directed by: Brian Henson
    Written by: Todd Berger, Dee Austin Robertson
    Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
    Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1
    Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
    Studio: Universal
    Rated: R
    Runtime: 91 Minutes
    Blu-ray Release Date: December 4th, 2018






    Recommendation: Guilty Pleasure

     
    tripplej likes this.
  2. tripplej

    tripplej AV Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the review. You got me at "is rude, crude, disgustingly raunchy, and mind blowingly stupid", have to see it now. :)
     
    Michael Scott likes this.
  3. Asere

    Asere AV Addict

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    I have never heard of this movie. I will have to rent it.
    Thanks for the review!
     

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