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Exclusive: How R-Rated is Brian Henson’s The Happytime Murders?

Screenwriter Todd Berger says 'It is full-on R. There is swearing, there's sex, violence, murder.' Plus: an update on Where's Waldo.

 

We got to interview Todd Berger for the film he directed, It’s A Disaster, playing at the Los Angeles Film Festival this week. We’ll bring you the full interview with Berger soon, but at the end we discussed his upcoming projects. As a screenwriter, he is writing Brian Henson’s puppet murder mystery The Happytime Murders and, for MGM, a movie based on Where’s Waldo.

“I want to try to make the Heat of puppet movies,” Berger said. “I want to be the Dark Knight or Heat but in a world where puppets and humans coexist. Brian was like, ‘This mystery actually needs to be interesting so that even if you took all the comedy out of it, it’s still going to be interesting to watch.”

Happytime Murders has already been announced as an R-rated film, but Berger described the extent of its adult nature, and why it couldn’t even be toned down if they tried. “It is full-on R. There is swearing, there’s sex, violence, murder. There’s no way. Maybe with some work it could be PG-13 but as of now we’ve embraced the R rating.”

The Henson Company will be introducing new puppet characters in this film, and they’ll be giving some screen time to obscure, existing puppets you may not know yet. “Brian has actually already been working on the main character puppet. The Creature Shop has already made a few test puppets that I’ve met in person that are amazing. Then the whole world, because it’s not associated with The Muppets which are owned by Disney, it’s a movie in which puppets and humans coexist and a lot of the supporting characters are all puppets. So they have a puppet improv group called Stuffed & Unstrung that tours around America doing improv shows. They’re going to use a lot of those puppets but they’re also going to create a bunch of new ones. There’s a whole cast of characters in the script that they’re going to create from scratch.”

As for the Waldo movie, Berger had a good-natured sarcastic take on writing yet another screen adaptation of a plotless children’s property. “I’m working on the Where’s Waldo movie for MGM which is a really a movie that writes itself,” he joked, then confirmed, “I am being sarcastic, yes. It’s going to be an adventure but the plot we came up with I think is pretty clever, but legally I’m not allowed to talk about it. Once it’s introduced to the world I think people are going to be like, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea. I like that.’”