The makers of “Sesame Street” have sued a film studio over a raunchy upcoming movie featuring puppets engaged in acts that would make Big Bird blush.
“The Happytime Murders,” set for release Aug. 17, features comedienne Melissa McCarthy cracking jokes alongside “explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating, and even ejaculating puppets,” Sesame Workshop complains in a lawsuit filed in Manhattan Federal Court.
Most concerning to the kid-friendly show is the slogan for the film, “No Sesame. All Street.”
“The threat of irreparable injury posed to Sesame’s mark and brand cannot be overstated. Sesame has worked for nearly 50 years to build, cultivate and maintain trust with its audience of parents and young children built on its reputation for wholesome educational programming,” says the suit, which was filed late Thursday. “That trust, although built over a span of generations, is too easily lost and is now in jeopardy.”
Even the trailer for “The Happytime Murders” is R-rated. It shows puppets having sex in an office, shooting each other’s heads off and snorting ecstasy. Several puppets proposition McCarthy’s character for sex.
“Sesame Street’s” suit notes that The Jim Henson Company, which created Muppet characters like Elmo, Big Bird and Cookie Monster, is also involved in “The Happytime Murders.” “Sesame Street” has asked the STX film studio to drop any reference to “Sesame Street,” but the company has refused, the suit says.
“Sesame Street” fans have already mistakenly associated the movie with the show.
“The ‘NO SESAME. ALL STREET’ tagline has confused and appalled viewers because of what they believe to be a serious breach of trust by Sesame by supporting this movie,” the suit says.
Papers cite tweets from people who viewed the trailer, including “I’ll never look at muppets/sesame street the same way,” and “I’m disgusted and disappointed this movie even exists. The trailer has scenes that are pornographic and strips away the innocence of #muppets & #sesamestreet.”
“Now, PLEASE, Sesame Street, find a way to ensure that the wretched, raunchy, inappropriate movie coming out with Melissa McCarthy and Muppets in Rated X situations NEVER makes it in theatres. It should be illegal,” one commenter wrote on the “Sesame Street” Facebook page.
Emails included in the suit note that Lisa Henson, CEO of The Henson Company, is opposed to “The Happytime Murders” tagline. The film is directed by Lisa’s brother, Brian Henson.
In a statement attributed to a puppet named Fred, Esq., STX said it “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.”
“While we’re disappointed that Sesame Street does not share in the fun, we are confident in our legal position,” “Fred” said. “We look forward to introducing adult moviegoers to our adorably unapologetic characters this summer.”