If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Brian Hensen (director of 'The Muppet Christmas Carol' and son of legendary Muppeteer Jim Henson) is about to show us a decidedly darker side to children's television. He is all set to direct the dark comedy 'The Happytime Murders' for Opus films. Based on a script from Todd Berger (who's largest credit to date is writing two 'Kung Fu Panda' short films), 'The Happytime Murders' creates a world where, much like in the Muppet films, humans and puppets live together, but on in which the puppets are regarded as second-class citizens. A scandal erupts when the puppet cast of an 80s kids show gets killed, and an on-the-outs puppet detective is called in to investigate. As to the human talent for the film, it has been revealed that Katherine Heigl is in advanced negotiations to headline on the carbon-based side of things. The film is looking for buyers at this week's European Film Market.
I was really excited about this project for about two minutes. I like the idea of a dark comedy/murder mystery involving characters one would typically see on children's television, and I think it's awesome that the son of the most eminent pioneer in the world of puppeteering is helming it; even though it won't be the Muppets themselves who are featured. I was also intrigued by the classic noir elements at play (the disgraced detective for example). Then I remembered that Robert Zemeckis' 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' exists. While it is true that 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' was a blending of the human world and that of cartoons, the stories sound remarkably similar. I'm sure 'The Happytime Murders' can establish their own voice, even if only by going darker than 'WFRR,' but I don't think they will be able to avoid the comparisons. Oh, and on top of all that, it's set to star Katherine Heigl. I don't think she's a terrible actress, but her body of work is now comprised of so many bland, forgettable rom-coms and other runoff from the Hollywood script machine that it's hard to get jazzed about her being on board.
What do you guys think? Are you interested in this concept? How do you feel about Heigl being cast?