Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Melissa McCarthy to star in 'The Happytime Murders'

Looking at the annual Blacklist is an experience that always manages to delight and disappoint me. For those not familiar with the insider baseball, The Blacklist (not the NBC show) is a yearly list of the most popular unproduced screenplays that are currently being shopped around to different studios. Some of these scripts are finally turned into films at a later date (examples: The Social Network, The Descendants, Prisoners), while others are stuck in development hell forever- that's the fun and the misery of the experience. You get to see all of the incredible concepts that are out there, while simultaneously realizing that most of these ideas will never see the light of day. Will we ever see Bubbles, the film about Michael Jackson's monkey that topped the 2015 Blacklist? Probably not. What about Seuss, the biopic of beloved author Dr. Theodor Geisel, which made the cut on the 2012 version of the list? Who knows. One of my favorite film concepts from the Blacklist has always been The Happytime Murders, an R-rated mix of Los Angeles noir, puppet murder, and raunchy comedy. It's an incredibly risky idea, but it's finally seeing the light of day.

Yesterday, STX Entertainment and The Jim Henson Company announced that The Happytime Murders is heading into production with Melissa McCarthy in the lead role. Brian Henson will direct the film, based on the screenplay by Todd Berger, which was further revised by Erich and Jon Hoeber and McCarthy herself. The film will be produced McCarthy, Henson, Jeffrey Hayes, and Ben Falcone under the Henson Alternative banner and STXfilms. Here's what McCarthy had to say about the project:

"When a really good script combines puppet strippers, Los Angeles' underbelly and comedy, it's like my fever dream has come true."

Brian Henson added this:

"Melissa and Ben's brand of humor is infectiously unique. I am thrilled to be partnering with them and STXfilms on The Happytime Murders."

Finally, STX Chairman Adam Fogelson made this statement on the announcement:

"Melissa McCarthy is the reigning queen of comedy and we believe she will make The Happytime Murders the kind of hysterical, edgy, viral event that audiences today crave. This is the kind of script and material that was made for Melissa's smart and boundary-pushing sensibilities. Having worked with her years ago on Bridesmaids and Identity Thief, I could not be more delighted or excited to be working with her again."

The Happytime Murders finds a cynical L.A. puppet detective investigating a series of murders involving the cast of a popular TV show called The Happytime Gang. Essentially, it sounds like a mix of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Avenue Q, and Sausage Party, which is just about the perfect combination in my book. I love high-concept humor that pushes the limits of absurdity, and I can't wait to see how this comes together. McCarthy's Spy was my favorite comedy of 2015, and I have a feeling that she's the perfect fit for this wacky film.

The film will begin production in August, which means that a 2018 release date is likely in the cards. Look for more in the near future.

Sources: Henson/STX, Blacklist
Image: Henson/Sony

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