Originally Published on Salty Popcorn
Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta) was once a highly regarded puppet cop, working side by side with his partner Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy), but after a case gone wrong, Phil lost it all. Years later, after the two went their separate ways, Phil’s still haunted by what went wrong, but just as life seems to hit a new low, a new case arrives that reunites him and his estranged partner into a world of crime, sex, and murder, all involving puppets. The two will have to put aside their differences if there’s any chance of catching LA’s latest puppet killer.
If you strip away the puppet element and just look at what this narrative has to offer, it’s a formulaic detective story with forced and predictable character arcs we’ve seen replicated in several plots before. There’s nothing new. A lot of it feels underdeveloped, with third act tie-ups making little sense. Characters are able to prove things in the eyes of the law with literally zero evidence, a complete turn-around from earlier scenes where the characters were being questioned about their trustworthiness. Not even the mystery at hand is all that mysterious. It’s just puppets dying until eventually the killer is found.
If I have to give this film props for anything though, it’s the impressive use of puppetry. Director Brian Henson comes from a background of early MUPPETS films, and the puppeteer crew he’s brought along for the ride give it their all. There are so many characters to work with here, placed into so many ridiculous situations, and yet it’s never wonky or awry. An end credit montage/music video shows the levels of difficulty behind bringing these little fellas to life, and the work is astonishing. It’s this behind the scenes credit sequence, with the cast and crew having the time of their lives, that’s honestly the most enjoyable element of the movie. Their fun is infectious.
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