So, with the stalling of the Muppets franchise, it seemed like a good time for a former Muppets stalwart Brian Henson (son of Muppets founder Jim) to take puppet humor in a more adult direction. A raunchier band of puppets would seem an OK addition to the Henson legacy. The Happytime Murders is not a Muppets movie—it’s a Brian Henson puppet movie (starring a lost Melissa McCarthy as a hapless human), a product of Henson Alternative, an “adult” branch of the Jim Henson Company. The public will not be hankering for more adult puppet shenanigans after watching this listless, joyless, humorless exercise in how not to make a puppet movie. The film is set up like your standard puppets-interacting-with-humans Muppets movie, but Kermit and company are banned from the set in favor of bland, seriously unfunny puppets that fail to distinguish themselves in any way. Brian Henson directs—his first big-screen directing gig since Muppet Treasure Island—and it’s a lost puppet cause. Henson’s directing chops have not aged like fine wine. They’ve aged like something more akin to a mango that got lost in the back of the refrigerator six months ago. The plot is stale, the jokes are bad, and the puppets are put to shame. Damn it. Where are the Muppets when you need them?

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