For some time now, Brian Henson and the Jim Henson Co. have been aiming to develop a film called The Happytime Murders, an R-rated detective noir movie, set in a world wherein puppets and humans co-exist. The plot will feature a wave of killings of the puppet stars of a television show called The Happytime Gang. The killings provokes a disgraced puppet detective out of retirement to solve the case and prevent further casualties. Not much progress has been made developing the picture, until now: Katherine Heigl is in talks to star.
Heigl is advancing furiously from her niche as rom-com fixture to a more multifaceted actress. Just yesterday, we heard she would be starring in the drama-thriller Face Blind. And now, this very off-beat project.
This will not be the first attempt at an adult-themed puppet movie. In 1989, Peter Jackson directed the black comedy Meet the Feebles, which featured a set of malicious, corrupt and seedy puppet characters involving one another in various dark and criminal scenarios behind the scenes of their theater show. The Happytime Murders seems more in line with another film from the year prior, however: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, a tour-de-force in animation.
The premise of unhappy detectives strapping on their boots and getting back in the game to protect the members of the film industry is applicable to both films. Additionally, like in Roger Rabbit (and its literary source material), the non-human characters in The Happytime Murders will be considered second-class citizens. To hope that The Happytime Murders will be as masterful as Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is a longshot. But it will at least probably be better than Meet the Feebles.
No matter what, the project intrigues. Puppets, humans and Heigls unite!