The Happytime Murders

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Happytime Murders Movie Poster Image
Vulgar humor outweighs positives in raunchy puppet movie.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 91 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 20 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 13 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Marginally raises issues of discrimination, as humans tend to see themselves as superior to puppets and frequently treat puppets with disdain and hatred, but it doesn't really go very far. Humans and puppets learn to work together for a common cause. But the movie also casually and somewhat carelessly deals with things like death and addiction.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No real role models here. Though characters do work together to solve a problem and can be somewhat likable, they're often poorly behaved and display few admirable qualities.


Guns and shooting. Puppets are killed. Heads explode, with white fluff flying everywhere. Fighting, punching. A puppet beats a human with a crowbar. Dogs tear apart a puppet. A car explodes, with a human burning inside. Puppet (almost) thrown into an airplane engine. Room on fire. Kids steal a puppet's eye.


Graphic puppet sex scene. A male puppet thrusts on female, with lots of moaning and screaming. Male puppet continuously "ejaculates" all over office (white silly string). Female puppet uncrosses and crosses her legs, revealing puppet vagina and pubic hair. A scene takes place in a "porn" shop, with graphic images (an octopus milking a cow, treated like a porn video, a dog whipping a human, etc.). Sex toys shown. Very heavy, frequent sexual innuendo throughout. Kissing (both humans and puppets). A puppet ogles a girl in a bikini. Scene set in a strip club, with pole dancing (no nudity).


Constant language includes many uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bulls--t," "c--k" "a--hole," "p---y," "t-ts," "t-tties," "bitch," "ass," "dumbass," "bastards," "goddamn," "butt," "hell," "crap," "d--k," "pee," and "boner," plus "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation). Middle-finger gesture.


Fiddle Faddle popcorn snack is shown and mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Puppets and humans smoke cigarettes. Puppet drinks whisky. Human snorts sugar like a drug. Puppets addicted to sugar. A puppet "crack den" is shown, full of sugar-addicted puppets. A human references "selling weed."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Happytime Murders is a movie starring both puppets and humans (including Melissa McCarthy), but even though it comes from Brian Henson -- the son of Jim Henson and a veteran of Muppet movies -- this is absolutely not for kids. It's extremely vulgar, with heavy sexual innuendo, sex jokes, sexual imagery, and more. Puppets have graphic sex, with a scene of ejaculation; there's also a shot of a puppet vagina and pubic hair and a scene set in a porn shop. Language is constant, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," "p---y," and many more. Puppets are shot with guns (white fluff explodes everywhere), and there are fight scenes, explosions, and more. Puppets are addicted to sugar as if it were a hard drug, and puppets and humans both smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. Weed is referenced. There's more emphasis on shock value than on being entertaining or inventive.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bynuenjins September 1, 2018

Jim Henson is ashamed and rolling in his grave. GARBAGE for the delinquent and simple minded.

If pissing off your parents and destroying what's left of your family inheritance exites will love this movie. For ANYONE familiar with the Muppet... Continue reading
Adult Written bySizzlesaur August 24, 2018

It's not your typical childhood muppets story.

My wife and I went into this movie not expecting much. We laughed a lot, about as much as any Melissa McCarthy movie we have seen. I don't know what people... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byTbird26 January 27, 2021

Despite a promising premise and a decent cast, The Happytime Murders decides to go straight into raunchy comedy territory and despite being entertaining it is EXTREMELY disappointing

I don’t have a whole lot to say except I wish this was The Who Framed Roger Rabbit movie for muppets. Again it had a great premise to have muppets doing adult t... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byDogcat December 29, 2020

What's the story?

In THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS, private detective Phil Philips (Bill Barretta) lives in a world in which puppets aren't viewed as humans' equals. Phil was once a cop, partnered with Detective Edwards (Melissa McCarthy), until a mishap cost him his job. Then a pretty puppet, Sandra (Dorien Davies), walks into Phil's office and hires him to look into a blackmailing. His first clue brings him to an adult video shop, where a masked killer shoots everyone in sight, including the bunny Mr. Bumblypants (Kevin Clash), who was once on the popular 1980s TV show The Happytime Gang. Phil learns from his brother, Larry (Victor Yerrid), that the show is going to be syndicated, which will bring in new cash for the cast. But then Larry is also murdered. As Phil investigates further, now reluctantly re-paired with Detective Edwards, other members of the Happytime gang meet their ends, with Phil nearby each time. Can Phil and Edwards solve the mystery before Phil gets blamed for the murders?

Is it any good?

Despite some good ideas, a likable cast, and a halfway decent mystery, this vulgar, naughty puppet show is far more interested in being juvenile and shocking than in being entertaining or inventive. Brian Henson, son of the legendary Jim Henson and the director of The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island, somehow thought this was a good idea, even though movies like Team America: World Police, Ted, and Sausage Party already pushed the envelope for raunchy humor in otherwise "kid"-oriented formats.

None of the so-called envelope-pushing humor here is funny -- not puppet sex, not puppets being addicted to sugar like a drug, and not the heavy swearing. Unfortunately, that stuff makes up most of The Happytime Murders. McCarthy is, as usual, amusing, and she shares some fun chemistry with Phil's character. But ideas like puppet "racism" and sugar addiction are barely explored, plopped casually into the movie as if they, too, were simply jokes. The movie is paced well and the story isn't bad; if only it could have focused on something other than tired, nasty humor, it might have been worthwhile.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Happytime Murders depicts addiction. Does it seem any less intense because the characters are puppets or because they're addicted to sugar? Are these sequences funny?

  • How violent is the movie? Does the violence have less of an impact because it involves puppets?

  • How is sex portrayed? What values are imparted?

  • How does the movie's over-the-top humor compare to the more wholesome humor of the Muppet movies?

  • What does the movie have to say about discrimination? Does it offer any lessons that can be applied to real life?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love crime movies and comedies

Themes & Topics

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