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Brian Henson
Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks, Maya Rudolph
Writing Credits:
Todd Berger

When the puppet cast of a 1990s TV show begin to get murdered one by one, a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private eye puppet takes on the case.

Box Office:
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$9,532,425 on 3256 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English DVS
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 91 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 12/4/2018

• Audio Commentary with Director Brian Henson and Actor Bill Barretta
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• Line-O-Rama
• Virtual Environments
• Avatar Demo
• VFX Breakdown
• Trailers & Previews
• DVD Copy


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-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Happytime Murders [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 10, 2018)

A comedy in the mode of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 2018’s The Happytime Murders takes us to Los Angeles. In this universe’s Southern California, though, humans and puppets co-exist alongside each other, though the latter get treated like second-class citizens.

Puppet Phil Philips (Bill Barretta) works as a cut-rate private detective who gets a shot at redemption when he picks up a tough case. Someone starts to kill the puppet members of a popular 1990s kiddie TV show, so along with human former partner Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy), Phil attempts to track down the culprit.

From the start, it seemed clear that Happytime owed a massive debt to Roger Rabbit, though its promos showed a clear willingness to “go blue” in a way the 1988 classic didn’t. While Roger Rabbit came with a “PG” rating, Happytime opted for “R” – and based on the trailers, it looked to present a pretty hard “R”.

In that sense, Happytime lines up more closely with 2004’s Team America: World Police. The latter doesn’t use the mix of human and non-human characters ala Happytime and Roger Rabbit, but its focus on marionettes and a bawdy tone resemble the vibe seen here.

One major factor separates Happytime from both Roger Rabbit and Team America: entertainment value. The earlier movies deliver real amusement, while Happytime offers only the most basic of entertainment value.

Whatever laughs we find come from the cast. In addition to McCarthy, we get strong talents like Elizabeth Banks, Maya Rudolph, Joel McHale, Leslie David Baker and Jimmy O. Yang. That’s too good a roster to fail to produce the occasional humorous moment.

Unfortunately, director Brian Henson appears to believe that he needs to do little more than churn out one seedy scene after another to generate mirth. The concept of profane, smutty puppets acts as almost the only comedic theme, and it doesn’t work.

That’s because Happytime comes with so little inspiration. As noted, it essentially rips off Roger Rabbit’s premise but it comes with not a fraction of that flick’s wit or cleverness.

Instead, it throws out filthy puppet sex mixed with bouts of violence and profanity as its only real emphasis. Sure, the filmmakers like to believe that they indulge in a theme related to bigotry, but it seems totally tacked on and phony, just an attempt to compensate for the tackiness.

Even at a mere 91 minutes, Happytime becomes a chore to watch. Despite a talented cast, there’s precious little entertainment to be found here.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

The Happytime Murders appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a pleasant presentation.

Sharpness was always positive. Virtually no softness crept into any shots, so the image remained tight and well-defined at all times.

I noticed no issues with shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes failed to appear. Print flaws also failed to mar the presentation.

Happytime went with a teal-influenced palette that sprinkled in a fair amount of amber as well. Within the movie’s color design, the tones seemed solid.

Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows demonstrated nice smoothness. This was a consistently satisfying image.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix of Happytime, it showed scope generally typical of the comedy soundfield. That said, the film’s action orientation occasionally allowed it to open up in a satisfying manner.

These added a lot of immersiveness, as did a few other exteriors, but those instances remained somewhat infrequent. The mix did use the score in a broad, engaging manner, though, and the whole package fit together smoothly.

Audio quality seemed good. Speech was distinctive and natural, without edginess or other issues.

Music seemed warm and lush, while effects showed nice clarity and accuracy. Again, nothing about the mix dazzled, but it suited the story and kicked into high gear when necessary.

We get a mix of extras, and these start with an audio commentary from director Brian Henson and actor Bill Barretta. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, editing, and effects/puppetry.

In the track’s early stages, we get some decent insights about the technical challenges involved with the film as well as alternate/cut sequences. However, Henson and Barretta often do little more than praise the film and laugh. Those moments get more dominant as the movie proceeds and make this a fairly mediocre chat.

Six Deleted Scenes fill a total of 14 minutes, 24 seconds. Some of these offer basic extensions to existing sequences, but we get a bit more action, character information and exposition. Don’t expect any actual comedy, but fans of the film may enjoy the added nuggets.

More cut footage shows up under Line-O-Rama, a two-minute, 35-second compilation. It provides alternate lines for a few scenes. None seem especially memorable.

A Gag Reel goes for two minutes, 47 seconds. It mainly focuses on the puppet performers, and that makes it more interesting than the usual blooper collection.

With Virtual Environments, we find a two-minute, 15-second piece. It shows raw footage from the green-screen set before/after the addition of location visuals. I’d prefer it to come with commentary, but it still gives us a decent look at the production conditions.

Avatar Demo runs two minutes, 45 seconds and features VFX supervisor Sam Nicholson. It gives us a quick but informative look at the way the filmmakers brought the puppets to life.

Finally, VFX Breakdown lasts four minutes, eight seconds and provides the expected view of various visual effects. Like “Environments”, I’d prefer something with commentary, but it still brings a decent glimpse of the different stages.

The disc opens with ads for Mile 22, Papillon (2018), BlacKkKlansman, Operation Finale, Peppermint and Destination Wedding. We also find two trailers for Happytime.

A talented cast goes to waste in The Happytime Murders, a tacky enterprise. Instead of wit and cleverness, we get little more than cheap, smutty gags. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals along with satisfying audio and a decent collection of bonus materials. Despite comedic potential, Happytime stinks.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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