Back in October, the Jim Henson Company announced the development of "Happytime Murders," a puppet comedy film that plays on the film noir genre. The film, based on a story by Todd Berger and Dee Robertson, will feature the renowned Henson style of irreverence and parody. The film will take place in a world where puppets are a minority race amongst humans, and follows a puppet detective who is forced to solve a string of murders around the Happytime Gang, the cast of a beloved children’s show, that is being picked off by a mysterious villain. Todd Berger is writing the screenplay, while Brian Henson is attached to direct.
The film is being produced under the company’s Henson Alternative banner, a division that develops projects not intended for children – most notably the company's "Puppet Up! – Uncensored" stage show. The idea behind "Happytime Murders" comes from the company's desire to take the tone, talent and comedy of "Puppet Up!" to the next level. This film noir spoof may just be the first of many Henson Alternative films, as Henson is looking to possibly continue their foray into adult-oriented puppet films with a series of other genre-based comedies from the "Puppet Up!" team.
Lisa Henson (co-CEO of the Jim Henson Company and producer of "Happytime Murders") recently remarked about this upcoming project stating:
"It's an adult puppet movie. It's going to be a film noir staring a puppet detective and basically it’s a spin-off of our theatre franchise 'Puppet Up!'... We loved the live shows so much that we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do to go to the next level with that kind of comedy. So we want to do a series of 'Puppet Up!' films which would all be in different genres. So this would be film noir detective, and if we do another one it won't be that genre – it would be a teen comedy, or a sci-fi, or something like that. So we would use the 'Puppet Up!' improv style to do different genres."
So if "Happytime Murders" is successful, we might see a whole series of Henson Alternative genre-lampooning feature films coming our way. "Happytime Murders" is in development and currently planned for release sometime around 2010. And while no other Henson Alternative films have been announced, the company is currently producing two original Henson Alternative web series for film.com – "Simian Undercover Detective Squad" (a spoof on police dramas) and "Alt/Reality" (a spoof of reality television shows). Also, the "Puppet Up!" troupe performs monthly shows at the Avalon in Hollywood (for showtimes and tickets visit puppetup.com). I will be sure to keep you updated with more information on all these exciting Henson Alternative projects as more details are revealed.