Is there anything more associated with children and innocence than puppets? Sesame Street, The Muppets, and Fraggle Rock captured the imaginations of children but puppetry also has a flip side. Puppetry with adult themes has been a slowly widening medium over the past twenty years from Crank Yankers, Wonder Showzen, Avenue Q to the most recent, the film The Happy Time Murders which seems to take some heavy cues from 2014’s The Fuzz.
The Fuzz is a crime TV show about puppets and humans that ran for 5 episodes. It was a 2011 film that was turned into a miniseries for Yahoo! Screen in 2014 (it’s also available on Amazon Prime and Vimeo). It was created by Christopher Ford who later went on to write the screenplay for Spider-Man Homecoming. Herbie a puppet cop who along with his newly assigned human partner Sanchez takes on the jelly bean trafficking Rainbow Brown.
Movie watching should never feel like a chore but lately I’ve been having a rough go at actually being able to pay any semblance of attention to anything I have chosen to view. The trailer looked cool enough and once I hit play The Fuzz grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and beckoned, “Behold the puppety goodness we have laid before thee!”
Herbie is a goody two shoes puppet who won’t even swear, his favorite interjection being, “scrambled eggs”, Sanchez is a down on his luck ex beat cop with an alcohol problem. After a drug deal goes wrong resulting in the death of an innocent puppet janitor, Herbie is thrust onto the new Puppet Crime Task Force along with Sanchez. He is super proud of this and aims to stop crime but the chief views it as nothing but a PR stunt and tells them to keep their noses clean.
Rainbow Brown is a jelly bean dealer who gets mixed up with Jake, a scummy mobster and Jake’s uncle, Sonny. Rainbow really knows how to get the jelly bean trade going and is taken in by Sonny. Rainbow gets hooked on jelly beans after a meeting with the Banana Brothers. Finding much success in the jelly bean game, he finally finds the courage to move in on Sonny’s girl, Roxy. This angers Sonny and Rainbow murders him and starts a war with the human “skinsects” and Jake.
Herbie goes undercover as Flerbie sporting a mustache that hides a wire when he and Sanchez are taken off the case due to an unauthorized stake out of Sonny’s mansion. He ingratiates himself into Rainbow’s gang and gets a little too deep when he starts abusing jelly beans. Herbie, Rainbow, and Jake are on a collision course of epic proportions that concludes with the end of the film.
The Fuzz toes the line extremely well between comedy and crime. I didn’t think that a crime procedural about humans, puppets, and drugs would be super entertaining but this proved my worries were baseless. The puppets are amazing. I loved the humor and I was drawn into this world where puppets and humans live side by side. It has a bit of crassness but nothing that really goes overboard. It gets close though with Strokey Zooms, a camera puppet who is obsessed with voyeurism. There is a small sex scene as well between Rainbow and Roxy but it’s not done distastefully.
Some of my favorite supporting characters were Wizo, Rainbow’s yellow right hand man, and an unnamed drug addict puppet near the beginning of the film, who shows up again when he is accused of killing the puppets in the botched jelly bean deal. Sasha, a puppet with a horn on its face is also funny and only communicates with honks.
If you’re a fan of puppetry and crime dramas you should really give this one a shot, I haven’t been able to enjoy a movie for a while but The Fuzz may be the one that finally ends my funk. Don’t be a fluff-head, go to Amazon and check it out now!