The process of getting a movie off of the ground is a lengthy endeavor, with casting standing out as one of the essential elements of the entire process. With that in mind, if The Happytime Murders feels ideally cast with Spy's Melissa McCarthy in the lead role, that's because the Bridesmaids star felt an immediate connection and decided to sign on for the film almost immediately. Speaking with CinemaBlend and other outlets during a visit to the movies set last year, the actress explained:
The script was so good that my pass was really just clarifying what I wanted to say. Ben always makes fun of me. He's like, "You spend eight million years killing yourself over each line, and you're gonna say something different on set. I don't know why you bother." By page 2, when I read this -- and I'm not exaggerating -- Ben was outside, and I walked out and was like, "I think I'm in." He was like, "You've been gone 13 seconds. What do you mean?" I was like, "I know, but there's a big street scene of gritty L.A. and they're playing 'I'm Your Puppet.'" He was like, "Why don't you go read it?" And then, I came back out on page 4 and was like, "I'm just saying, I really think I'm already in." I never say that. I wait until the very end and I think about it, but I had the strangest reaction to it. We all grew up with puppets, and when they're inhabited in such a realistic way, there's the little voice in the back of your head that goes, "I knew it! I knew they were real!" It's everything you thought of, as a kid. They just talked to me.
So, I guess that's the movie equivalent of love at first sight. Melissa McCarthy barely got a few minutes into the script for The Happytime Murders before deciding that it was a project that she wanted to involve herself in, but her husband Ben Falcone convinced her to go back and continue reading before making a final decision. However, even after returning to the script to take a more in-depth look at the story, McCarthy quickly reasserted the fact that she wanted to sign on and play Edwards in the movie.
Showing a darker and grittier side of the puppet world than anything seen on Sesame Street, The Happytime Murders centers on a fictional version of Los Angeles in which humans and puppets live side by side. When a series of murders start to take place in the city, a human detective (Melissa McCarthy) is forced to team up with a puppet (Bill Barretta) to investigate the deaths and get to the bottom of a massive (and decidedly not kid friendly) conspiracy. Along the way, the partners find themselves embroiled in a vulgar web of sex, profanity, drugs, and violence.