happytime murders

For our third and final interview from our visit to the set of The Happytime Murders, I bring you a discussion with producer/co-writer and Melissa McCarthy’s close collaborator Ben Falcone. In a roundtable interview, Falcone talked about how good the screenplay was on first read, the strange world-building of the movie, the difficulties in making an R-rated puppet comedy, making raunchy comedy that isn’t mean-spirited, how inactive puppets look like they’ve died, and how a puppet set is different from a regular set.

Do you do any puppets in this movie? What’s your role beyond producer?

That’s it. I’m just back there trying to pitch jokes, but mostly yeah. Thank you so much. But yeah, no, that’s, that’s all I, that’s all I’m doing here.

What made you and Melissa want to this?

You know, Melissa read the script and she read it really quickly and said she thought it was great. Which, you know, there are, there are good scripts out there… This one’s really great, not all that common. So, um, I read it and I also thought it was really great. And so basically it just comes. I read it, I mean, I’m sure I’m exaggerating, but I feel like I read it in 30 minutes. It was just a really clean and really funny and I thought it had a good point, some good points to make. So I was into it from the, from the start.

Could you give us a synopsis of the movie kind of where we start without too far into it?

Sure. Like 25 minutes later, I’m like, and in summation! It’s a movie about, it’s a world in which, you know, puppets and humans lived together and puppets are sort of the outcasts of society a little bit. There’s a puppet cop named Phil played by Bill Barretta who’s amazing and a human cop, a detective Edwards played by Melissa and they’ve had a falling out and they have to re-team up to solve a series of murders.  So that’s basically what it is with the, you know, the sort of puppet human societal element in the background.

As the murders are happening? Apparently there was a show that happened in the 1980s?

Right. So, The Happytime Murders refers to a show called The Happytime Gang, which is like a famous show from the eighties or early nineties where, yeah, where there are puppets and a human, Jenny, played by Elizabeth Banks, our friend. Then she was the star of the show. And so basically Phil gets wise to the fact that these murders are going down and brings Edwards in even though they have a lot of animosity towards each other and they, you know, it’s, it’s kind of a, it’s a, a cop movie. A buddy movie and it’s, you know, to me it’s about their friendship and about them, like kind of reconnecting through some hard stuff and you know, during some hard times, and it’s super fun because puppets are very funny.

happytime murders

You said the puppets are sort of outcasts. Did something happen to make that?

You know, it’s, I think it’s just the world that’s set up that Brian is setting up really well. Brian Henson and the director and it’s, it’s just like, that’s how the world is. There’s just a, there’s puppets, you know? So, when you see a walks sign, there’s a human one and then there’s a puppet one at their level because generally they’re a little bit smaller. You know, the way that he’s got it set up is that puppets are sort of ostracized and they’re a little bit less than and they’re not taken care of entirely by the law. And so, it’s a really interesting kind of world that he’s just setting up and he’s just saying this is how it is.

Is there a message in there?

Well, I mean, I think you could definitely find some messages in there of like, you know, trying to treat everybody with equality and you know, a better, a better country for all of us for sure. Yeah.

I always loved when Henson would do these more adult things, but it seems like it’s harder and harder to do puppet stuff that is adult. How hard is it to get a production like this off the ground?

Well, they’ve had it going for, I mean, I’ll let Brian speak to it, for many reasons. First of which, he’s smarter than me, but he’s, I think had the script for six years and Adam Fogelson from STX has loved it forever. And when you’ve got the head of a studio and Brian Henson and it still takes a long time, it must mean that it’s pretty tricky to get it going. But here we are. They were crazy enough to let us try it. So, it seems really funny and Brian’s making a great movie.

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