THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS Review

By Victoria Alexander, Film Critic

Brilliant, creative, and McCarthy has her franchise as long as she can get along with newly minted star, Phil Phillips.

I know Melissa McCarthy has a very close working relationship with her husband, Ben Falcone, who has written, directed and produced three of her films, but she has a new leading man, Phil Phillips. Also, Falcone, along with McCarthy, are two of the 20 listed producers on THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS imdb page.

Before I talk about the raunchiest film – it beats out DEADPOOL 2, so you know it’s a hard R-rating – I want to single out whoever cast Bill Barretta as Phil Phillips. With the magic and genius of director Brian Henson, I think Phil Phillips should be inserted as Rick Blaine in CASABLANCA. Wouldn’t you love to see him play Commodus to Russell Crowe’s Maximus? “Am I not merciful? AM I NOT MERCIFUL?” And, while I acknowledge Keir Dullea’s brilliance in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (“Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”), imagine Phil Phillips as Dr. Frank Poole!

I can go on and on. You get the idea.

With the rumor that ET’s are actually amongst us – current reports say they are – Los Angeles hired a puppet, the first, on its police force. When Phil Phillips became a detective, his partner was Det. Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) until a fatal shootout ended Phil’s career. Accidentally shooting Connie, he rushes her to a hospital and she is given a puppet liver and develops a serious sugar addiction. So, along with not being 100% human, Connie is constantly misidentified as a man.

Phil is down on his luck working at the ass-end of L.A. as a private detective. He’s got a devoted secretary, Bubbles (Maya Rudolph), who has a serious unrequited crush on him. One day a seductive woman, Sandra (Dorien Davies), in the fine tradition of cinematic femme fatales, walks into Phil’s office – just like Evelyn Mulwray in CHINATOWN, and asks him to find out who is blackmailing her. Sandra has a unique talent and eventually she easily seduces Phil in his office. This ranks as the first of many highly memorable scenes. Ryan Reynolds, will you top this?

How about Sandra’s rendering of Catherine Tramell’s interrogation scene in BASIC INSTINCT? Contrary to Paul Verhoeven’s recollection*, Sharon Stone continues to claim she’d been misled and in 2014 she spoke about the scene on The Talk. She said she slapped the director when she saw her infamous legs-crossing scene in the 1992 film for the first time. She was so stunned to learn that her nude crotch was visible in the infamous shot that she couldn’t contain her anger at director.

Henson doesn’t have to worry about Sandra backpedaling because she was totally on board with the repeated takes it took to get the scene perfect (and Sandra’s contract detailed the scene).

There’s even a lesbian scene!

Phil is sidetracked from helping Sandra when a beloved member of the 80s children’s TV show, The Happytime Gang, is murdered in a highly inappropriate establishment. Phil tries to warn his brother who was the star of the sitcom and his former girlfriend Jenny (Elizabeth Banks) who also was on the show as the only human. They might be the next victims. Phil’s brother is probably based on Robert Evans.

Since I have seen McCarthy’s trailer for CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? three thousand times and it looks terrific, it appears she has course-corrected her career after the disappointing GHOSTBUSTERS, THE BOSS and LIFE OF THE PARTY. But I still want Phil Phillips to host Saturday Night Live.

Stay for the credits and see a few shots of how Phil Phillips and the huge puppet cast were filmed. If they shot all of it, they have a huge money-making Blu-ray on their hands.

Written by Todd Berger, THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS, has a lot of perfectly outrageous dialogue that will make the closed-caption smart-TV option everyone’s must-see several times favorite.

*Paul Verhoeven also discusses the fact that for a long time Sharon Stone claimed she’d been misled to film the scene, something the director denies, and the actress has apparently become more philosophical about the experience. (Apparently after 2014.) He says there was really no way he could have filmed what he did without her fully understanding what his intentions were.

Victoria Alexander

Victoria Alexander is a member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.

Victoria lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com.

For a complete list of Victoria Alexander’s movie
reviews on Rotten Tomatoes go to:
rottentomatoes.com/critic/victoria-alexander/

Contributing to:
FilmsInReview: filmsinreview.com
FilmFestivalToday: filmfestivaltoday.com
Las Vegas Informer Group: LVInformer.com

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: lvfcs.org

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