The Happytime Murders is one of the longest lingering projects that The Jim Henson Company has held onto hopes of producing, with at least a decade of history surrounding its attempted existence. But for one reason or another, the idea of a "Puppet Noir" film just hadn't caught fire with anyone in the business. That seems to have changed today, as the project is not only announced as going into production in August, but has Melissa McCarthy as its lead human component.
The film, set to be directed by Brian Henson himself, tells the story of a mismatched pair of detectives trying to solve the brutal murder of a former kids' show star. McCarthy will be playing the role of the human detective, with the role of her puppet partner being left to be determined. This is a long way from earlier reports that pegged Cameron Diaz as the potential hopeful for the human lead, with a PG-13 rating attached to the project's previous incarnation. But just as Melissa McCarthy has taken the human lead in The Happytime Murders, there's still a chance that the PG-13 could bump up to an R.
Along with a new leading star comes another revision to the script to The Happytime Murders, which saw its initial draft coming from writer Todd Berger, and a subsequent round of work being put in by writers Erich & Jon Hoeber. Production company STX Entertainment has also drafted McCarthy for re-writes, and with the market more receptive to a project as potentially subversive as The Happytime Murders, there's always the opportunity that the revisions that Melissa McCarthy will make to the project's script will give it more of an edge. At least, that's what one would think, considering the following quote from McCarthy, explaining why she took the project:
No matter what rating the film lands, the continued popularity of Melissa McCarthy is only a credit to The Happytime Murders' developing pedigree. Of course, another trump card is the darkly comic proclivities of Brian Henson, both learned from his father Jim, as well as through his Puppet Up improv group. Looking back at the work he's done both during and after the Muppet era of The Jim Henson Company, Henson's felt touch and McCarthy's comedic timing are a match made in puppet noir heaven.
The Happytime Murders goes into production this August, with a release date not yet set.
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