The Happytime Murders – Blu-ray Review

The Happytime Murders - Theatrical Trailer

The Happytime Murders is such an interesting concept on paper. Especially since there’s a ton of shows out there where humans interact with puppets. Unfortunately, the interesting concept is wasted because of its generic execution. It’s just really disappointing to find out that The Happytime Murders isn’t funny at all. A lot of the one-liners and comedic jokes fall flat. Surprisingly, it’s not the delivery and deadpan performances that’s the problem. That’s fine. The problem is that the punchlines are just so painfully bad. Not to mention, a lot of the mature puppet jokes end up being awkward and juvenile instead of edgy and hilarious.

Then there’s a problem with the story itself. The plot is really predictable and stereotypical. If you’ve ever seen a crime drama then you’ll figure out what’s going to happen. At the same time, the film checks off all of the crime noir stereotypes in the book. In addition, the story beats are essentially the same as the first few murders. As a result, the film doesn’t flow well and feels really uneven in terms of pacing. On top of all that, director Brian Henson can’t seem to get the tone of a crime noir film right. The film looks too clean and spotless for a crime noir film set in LA. At the same time, the world of puppets and humans doesn’t feel lived in. There’s not much imagination in integrating puppets into the human world.

Bill Barretta a does a good job playing the hard-nosed detective with a past. Unfortunately, his performance is so wooden and stale. For a comedy, he doesn’t provide any laughs at all to the film. The same can be said for Melissa McCarthy whose comedic talents are completely wasted in this film. She tries hard to make the awful dialogue funny but fails to make it funny. On the other hand, Maya Rudolph is successful in making the film funny. She easily has some of the funniest moments in the film, and a lot of them is with Melissa McCarthy.

Overall, it’s disappointing to see the concept of The Happytime Murders go to waste on such an unfunny and generic film. It seems as if the filmmakers were focusing more on shock value instead of the comedy and the storyline. In other words, these puppets got their stuffing knocked the eff out of them before the film even starts.

Movie Rating: 1.5/5 atoms

The Happytime Murders - Melissa McCarthy and Bill Barretta

The Happytime Murders hits Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-AVC with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The contrast of the video transfer is nice and even. There’s some good depth to the picture too. Unfortunately, the brightness is extremely vibrant with a lot of detail lost in the bright areas. On the other hand, the black levels are an inky deep black with zero loss of shadow detail. It’s surprising, though, that see a colorful film such as this doesn’t have the colors pop from the screen. The colors and skin tones do look natural, though. The details look crystal clear as you can easily see the texture on the puppets. Overall, this is a great video transfer despite the high brightness.

Video Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

The Happytime Murders - Leslie David Baker, Dorien Davies, and Joel McHale

The Happytime Murders hits Blu-ray with a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. The music is easily the one audio track that consistently fills up the soundstage. Most of the audio mix gets relegated to the front three channels. However, once the action picks up, the soundstage comes alive. The sound effects are accurately placed around the soundstage which will immerse you within the film. There are also a few instances where the sound effects pan through the soundstage. Then again, these instances don’t happen a lot. Since the audio mix is relegated more in the front channels, the dialogue comes in clear in these channels. Overall, this is a good mix.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

Special Features
The Happytime Murders - Bill Barretta and Kevin Clash

The Happytime Murders has the following special features on the Blu-ray:

  • Deleted Scenes
    • Puppet Poachers
    • Meet Jenny
    • Meet Edwards
    • Larry’s Funeral
    • Ronovan Poisoned
    • Jenny’s Arrest
  • Gag Reel
  • Line-O-Rama
  • Virtual Environments
  • Avatar Demo
  • VFX Breakdown

This is one of those extremely rare cases where the special features are more entertaining than the film itself. It’s even rarer to see the deleted scenes get more laughs than the actual film itself. Yet this is exactly what happens here. Not to mention, the deleted scenes also give more depth to some of the other supporting characters. All in all, these deleted scenes actually could’ve helped the film. The “Gag Reel” and “Line-O–Rama” is also a laugh riot. Seeing the puppet voice actors mess up and react to their errors is hilarious. In addition, seeing the actors improvise their lines in Line-O-Rama is actually really, really funny.

“Virtual Environments” is simply just a visual effects breakdown of the various environments in the film. There’s not much else to this bonus feature but if this is your thing then you’re going to love it. “Avatar Demo” is basically the only talking-head featurette in this release. This featurette basically breaks down the process the filmmakers went through in blending both puppetry and the CG puppets. It’s an interesting watch since you never realized that some scenes have CG versions of the puppets. “VFX Breakdown” shows you a break down of the film’s many CG scenes. There are a couple of breakdowns from the previous two featurettes.

Special Features Rating: 4/5 atoms

Overall, The Happytime Murders is an unfunny and disappointing mess. It’s a shame because it had the potential to be so much more. Fortunately, both the video transfer and audio mix are great. Although the special features don’t have any featurettes on it, the special features are still way more entertaining than the film itself.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 atoms

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Universal Home Entertainment.

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1539 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.