Jim Henson Co. Ponders Mature Puppet Fare In ‘The Happytime Murders’

I think we can all thank Jason Segel and his Dracula puppet musical for this startling and exciting turn of events from The Jim Henson Co. According to The Hollywood Reporter, they’ve picked up a spec script that will bring puppets into the mature world of film noir in “The Happytime Murders.”

Yes, you read that right. Jim Henson Co. puppets are going noir, and I for one couldn’t be happier.

Written by Todd Berger and Dee Austin Robertson, “Happytime” takes place in a world where humans and puppets co-exist. But in this world, being made of felt and possessing a set of googly-eyes makes you a second-class citizen. Things turn ugly when, one by one, the puppet cast of television’s “The Happytime Gang” begin turning up dead. It falls to a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private-eye puppet to take on the case — and yes, in noir fashion, he has personal demons and a drinking problem to overcome.

Obviously, the movie is not intended for children, and aims to be a dark comedy, borrowing liberally from movies like “L.A. Confidential” and “Pulp Fiction.” I suspect it was also inspired by “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and, maybe, just maybe, that infamous puppet episode of Joss Whedon’s “Angel.”

And I still wouldn’t be surprised if Segel’s puppet renaissance sparked the Henson Co. to look at getting a little edgier. It’s not entirely new ground for them — Henson always pushed the mature envelope in the original Muppet movies, and scared an entire generation with “The Dark Crystal.” The Henson Co. has been asleep for so long, I really hope this new project is a sign they’re still alive, and ready to entertain us again. But hey, if all I get is one Henson-style puppet movie that mashes together all my hard-boiled favorites, than I can die happy.

Segel, for his part, is hard at work scripting a new Muppets movie for Disney.

Sound off, readers. Excited for Henson’s puppets to enter the world of film noir? Or do you think that The Henson Company needs to remember the children, and stick to younger fare?