Fans of puppets doing inappropriate things should rejoice at the news that Lionsgate has officially picked up The Happytime Murders, a dark comedy from screenwriter Todd Berger and director Brian Henson. The noirish detective story is set in a Who Framed Roger Rabbit?-like world where puppets and humans uneasily co-exist, and a hard-drinking, disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private eye puppet is forced to reunite with his human partner to find out who’s killing off the puppet cast of ’80s children’s show The Happytime Gang. It’s part of The Jim Henson Co.’s attempt to branch out into doing decidedly more adult things—and when I spoke to Berger about the project last year, he told us that Happytime is far more “adult” than even he thought possible, saying:
“It’s funny, because it’s a 'hard R' puppet movie, and when the Henson Company came on board, they said, 'Why don’t we do a PG-13 draft?' And the PG-13 draft, we all looked at it and were like, 'No.' So Brian Henson said, 'Todd, I want you to "R" this script up. I want all the puppet sex, violence, and cursing you can put in there. I’ll let you know if you’ve gone too far.'"
Of course, it remains to be seen whether that draft will be toned down now that the film actually has a distributor and a proposed January start date—and The Hollywood Reporter still terms it a “risky project.” Of course, pretty much any R-rated puppet comedy is going to look positively milquetoast next to, say, Let My Puppets Come or Meet The Feebles. (Also, the chance of it having a tune as catchy as "The Sodomy Song" is pretty much nil, but that goes without saying. Enjoy humming this the rest of the day.)