“The Happytime Murders” is Udder-ly Delightful and Unabashedly Filthy

If you ever wanted to see a cow and an octopus make a porno, look no further.

If you once swore on your life you’d never hear a bunny yowl orgasmically, “It feels like Easter in my pants,” get your shovel out and start digging.

And if you relish rice pilaf, you better just skip this film.

Yes, finally, a movie traipses to the darkside of Muppetville, revealing dirt that not even the National Enquirer would dare touch. Indeed, nowhere else can you learn that puppets pee sparkles, ejaculate whip cream, and snort sugar. It’s not pretty, but it’s sure damn fun to watch.

Sort of The Big Sleep meets Basic Instinct meets Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, The Happytime Murders wants you to laugh while never letting you forget that here is a hard-hitting parody of our racist, misogynistic society. Well, to be honest, you do forget thanks to Todd Berger’s often gleeful screenplay and Brian Henson’s campy direction. [He’s Jim’s son and Chairman of The Jim Henson Company.]

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Cop Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) and P.I. Phil (Voiced by Bill Baretta) aren’t happy to see each other.

The story begins in a world where both human and puppets uneasily inhabit the same quarters in a seedy Los Angeles. As Miss Piggy, who sidestepped this project, once noted, “You have to be going to a pretty awful place if getting there is half the fun,” and this L.A. is pretty awful.

Why every day, our felty friends might have their eyes pulled out or have mongrels pull them apart, or they might just be gunned down or blown away by bigoted homo sapiens. In fact, there seems to be a whole contingent of puppets getting wiped out at the moment by a serial killer. Oh, no!

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P.I. Phil Phillips reunites with his stripper love (Elizabeth Banks) .

To the rescue are the very blue, Raymond-Chandler-esque private investigator Phil Phillips (voiced by Bill Baretta) and his mostly human, former cop partner Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy). This duo is less compatible than oil and water, especially since Edwards had testified a decade earlier that Phillips, when on the force, refused to kill his own kind. Consequently, he lost his badge and eventually became a disgruntled protector of his fellow puppets, punching human hate mongers in the face whenever he could.

Now, Phillips and Edwards are coerced to work together again to find the maniac on the loose, and this pairing won’t be easy, even with Rick Astley singing in the background. Yet not unlike every buddy film starring Mel Gibson, you know it will all work out in the end.

To be fair, Happytime isn’t exactly a masterpiece. The plot is unrepentantly silly and possibly a bit convoluted. But as the film nibbles away at every aspect of bad taste, you know McCarthy, who keeps getting mistaken for a man here, and her game cast (Maya Rudolph, Elizabeth Banks, Leslie David Baker, and Joel McHale) are having a blast. This is clearly apparent when you see the clips attached to the end credits. And their joy is contagious.

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Joel McHale and Leslie David Baker star in “The Happytime Murders.”

So forget the Rotten Tomatoes rating, and try this one out. You’ll be glad you did, especially when another horny bunny at a strip joint screams out, “She’s got her hand on my carrot,” and you know he isn’t in the midst of making a salad.

Brandon Judell has published in The Village Voice, The Advocate, and 50 or so other outlets. He is currently a lecturer at The City College of New York.

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