The filmmakers behind raucous, adult-oriented movie The Happytime Murders feel the wrath of Sesame Street. They respond in kind, with a puppet lawyer.
These Puppets Aren't For Kids
Last week, Sesame Workshop filed a lawsuit against the producers of the upcoming movie, claiming trademark infringement over the tongue-in-cheek tagline, "No sesame. All street."
The Happytime Murders is an irreverent, R-rated comedy, starring Melissa Mc Carthy, that is set in a world where humans and puppets coexist. The trailer caused quite a stir upon its release, due to its crazy, puppets-gone-wild tone.
STX Entertainment sent a response to HuffPost purporting to be from their puppet lawyer, Fred, Esq.
"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. Happytime Murders is the happy result of that collaboration and we're incredibly pleased with the early reaction to the film," it reads.
STX went on to explain that they're confident in their legal standing, and that, although they are disappointed in Sesame Street's reaction, they're sure the movie will be taken exactly as intended when during its release this summer.
Fred Esq. signed the statement as STX's lawyer.
The Greatest Showman
The late Henson, the founder of The Jim Henson Company, was responsible for the creation of several of the original, and most beloved Sesame Street characters, along with his wife.
Helmer Brian Henson, whose previous credits include The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island, is the chairman of Jim Henson, as well as the son of the man himself.
His father was a celebrated puppeteer, whose Muppet-attended funeral left long-time fans of his creations in tears, particularly when it came to Kermit the Frog's eulogy for the great man.
He passed away in 1990, after spending over 20 years working on Sesame Street. During his tenure, Henson helped to create fan favorites Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, Count von Count, and Cookie Monster.
Destroying Their Legacy
Sesame Workshop's lawsuit claims Happytime Murders deliberately appropriates the Sesame Street trademark, to promote an adult movie that isn't in keeping with their child-friendly brand.
They're taking particular issue with the raunchy trailer, which they deem to be completely inappropriate.
"[The defendants] are distributing a trailer that deliberately confuses consumers into mistakenly believing that Sesame is associated with ... or has even endorsed ... the movie that tarnishes Sesame's brand," alleges the suit.
Seriously, It's Not For Kids
Happytime Murders was actually made under Henson Alternative, which focuses on R-rated fare separate from the greater Muppets Studio. Regardless, Sesame Workshop is concerned about the damage the movie could do to its brand.
Happytime Murders reunites puppet P.I. Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta) with ex-partner Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) to track down the murderer responsible for the death of Phil's brother. The killer has turned his attention to cast members of The Happytime Gang, a 1980s TV series.
Maya Rudolph, Joel McHale, and Elizabeth Banks round out the human cast.
Catch The Happytime Murders in theaters on August 17.