The Muppets in modern Roger Rabbit
That's the first thing I thought when I saw the concept image from the pre-production of the new Henson Studios film to be created with Muppet characters living alongside humans, for it's going to be a murder-mystery in the style of a film noir, and the similarities to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in that paragraph alone are enough.
However, at the same time the single still tells you more than that, it reveals that it's going to look a little grittier, a little more modern, and perhaps with a little more edge and less soft focus, especially as the art shows the murder to have taken place in a sex shop.
Henson Studios are looking set to make The Happytime Murders into a film noir set in a world where humans and puppets co-exist and where a puppet detective, not used in the derogatory sense of the word, has to solve a murder of another puppet.
You can see the full concept art over at The Hollywood Reporter where it's a lot clearer that this is a seedier murder than you might expect and with the setting appearing to be a sex shop, and perhaps a puppet sex shop, it doesn't look like this will be the completely teen friendly film that most studios would like.
A synopsis of The Happytime Murders accompanies the still:
In a world where puppets co-exist with humans as second class citizens, puppet private eye and disgraced ex-cop, Phil Phillips, is hot on the trail of the serial killer who murdered his brother and is now targeting the cast members of the famous 80s television show, The Happytime Gang. As the killings continue, Phil's former flame, Jenny, is next on the list. It's up to Phil and his ex-partner, Detective Edwards, to find the culprit, but as bad blood and old resentments resurface the clues start pointing to the only viable suspect, Phil himself. Now he's on the run with only his wits and hardheaded determination, as he tries to solve, The Happytime Murders.
Oh I couldn't help but say that in my head with my voiceover man voice.
Brian Henson will direct the film, he is the son of the famous Jim Henson and he also directed the excellent films Muppet Treasure Island and A Muppet Christmas Carol. Todd Berger has delivered the script for the film. So far everything looks good, and then there's word of the first casting, Katherine Heigl. Who said romantic comedy?
Suddenly I'm wondering if this is really going to have a harder edge as the image suggests, or does it end with the concept art? Could this actually be more of a comedy, and considering Heigl is involved, a romantic comedy? I really hope not and that Heigl is playing away from type for the rest of the idea for the film is sounding superb.
A Muppet film noir - although I am using the term Muppet it's only by historical association as Disney now own the Muppet moniker and not Henson Studios.