The tagline for The Happytime Murders is “No Sesame. All Street,” and that offers a pretty good indication of what to expect from the upcoming R-rated puppet comedy film directed by celebrated Muppet movie filmmaker Brian Henson. The raunchy movie now has its first trailer, and the preview’s Red Band, “mature audiences” designation is well warranted. (Let’s just say that viewer discretion is strongly advised.)
Directed by Henson from a script by Todd Berger (It’s A Disaster), The Happytime Murders is set in a world in which humans and puppets coexist. The neo-noir comedy follows a disgraced former police detective puppet, Phil Phillips (as performed by Bill Barretta), who must team up with his old partner, Detective Edwards (Melissa McCarthy), to bring a serial killer to justice. With the killer targeting members of a puppet-led 1980s television series, The Happytime Gang, Phil has a personal stake in stopping the next murder, and must get past his differences with his former partner in order to do so.
Joining McCarthy in the film’s cast of actors playing human characters is Elizabeth Banks (the Pitch Perfect and The Hunger Games films) as Jenny, Phil’s ex-girlfriend, as well as Maya Rudolph as Phil’s secretary, Joel McHale as an FBI agent, and
Leslie David Baker as Edwards’ boss.
The Happytime Murders is the first film to come out of Henson Alternative, the production company for projects developed for adult audiences by The Jim Henson Company. Previously, Henson Alternative had worked on a long list of television and online series featuring puppets.
The Happytime Murders has been in various stages of development for nearly a decade now, having been first announced in 2008. Cameron Diaz was initially attached to star in the film, but was later replaced by Katherine Heigl before the project stalled out a few years later. Jamie Foxx was attached to star in it at one point, only to have McCarthy finally sign on as the film’s human lead character.
Along with the first trailer for the film, a poster for The Happytime Murders was also released. The film is scheduled to hit theaters August 17.