Melissa McCarthy stars in the upcoming film The Happytime Murders, a puppet-human hybrid movie that takes a peek at the lives of Jim Henson's puppets in their downtime (when they're not entertaining kids). The film is described as "a filthy comedy set in the underbelly of Los Angeles where puppets and humans coexist." McCarthy plays a cop investigating a string of muppet murders, and the film is directed by Brian Henson — aka the son of Sesame Street mastermind, Jim Henson. The film has puppet prostitutes, puppet murder, and — wait for it — puppet bodily fluids. This is so not the Sesame Street from your youth. In fact, the film has nothing to do with the wholesome kids' show at all, but its use of puppets has convinced Sesame Street to sue the distributor, STX Entertainment. According to The Blast, the iconic children's show is "seeking to have all advertising for the film pulled ASAP" plus financial support for "unspecified damages."
The Happytime Murders is its own flick that just so happens to use the legendary Henson puppets to tell a story. However, the trailer does feature the tagline "No Sesame, All Street," and that's where Sesame Street is drawing the line.
According to court documents, Sesame Workshop claims the new film "deliberately confuses consumers into mistakenly believing that Sesame is associated with, has allowed, or has even endorsed or produced the movie and tarnishes Sesame’s brand." It also complains that the trailer includes "explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating, and even ejaculating puppets."
Sesame Workshop told the Wrap it doesn't mean to step on anyone's creative freedoms, but it objects to having its characters' likenesses associated with the raunchy film. It doesn't like the movie's tagline and wants it removed. Unfortunately for Sesame Street, STX has refused.
"Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, learned last Friday that the name Sesame Street is being used to market a graphic, adult-themed movie," Sesame Workshop's statement read. "We were surprised and disappointed that Sesame Street, a show dedicated to educating young children, is being exploited to market this R-rated film... This is about how our name is being misused to market a film with which we have no association. We regret that our fans and families have been confused by STX’s marketing campaign."
But the best part of this ordeal is that the producers behind The Happytime Murders responded to the lawsuit with a statement from their layer, Fred Esq, who also happens to be a puppet.
"STX loved the idea of working closely with Brian Henson and the Jim Henson Company to tell the untold story of the active lives of Henson puppets when they’re not performing in front of children," the puppet lawyer wrote in a statement. "Happytime Murders is the happy result of that collaboration and we’re incredibly pleased with the early reaction to the film and how well the trailer has been received by its intended audience. While we’re disappointed that Sesame Street does not share in the fun, we are confident in our legal position. We look forward to introducing adult moviegoers to our adorably unapologetic characters this summer."
Yeah, Big Bird probably doesn't approve of this film.