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Judge sides with Melissa McCarthy's "The Happytime Murders" after "Sesame Street" complaints

Melissa McCarthy in the "Happytime Murders."

STX Entertainment

Last Updated May 31, 2018 1:56 PM EDT

Everything's not A-OK for "Sesame Street." A judge has denied a request by the children's show for a temporary restraining order to halt ads for Melissa McCarthy's new film, "The Happytime Murders," a vulgar adult comedy featuring puppets reminiscent of shows like Off-Broadway's "Avenue Q" or Comedy Central's defunct "Crank Yankers." 

Sesame Workshop claimed in a lawsuit filed last week that the movie's trailer, which included "drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating, and even ejaculating puppets," was inflicting "devastating and irreparable injury" to the Sesame Street name, reports Page Six. The film's description says it's "a filthy comedy set in the underbelly of Los Angeles where puppets and humans coexist. Two clashing detectives with a shared secret, one human (Melissa McCarthy) and one puppet, are forced to work together again to solve the brutal murders of the former cast of a beloved classic puppet television show."

"They are distributing a trailer that 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," the lawsuit claimed.

Manhattan federal Judge Vernon Broderick disagreed, pointing out that the trailer's tagline, "No Sesame. All Street," made it clear that the film and TV show are different. The film, from STX Entertainment, is directed by the late Jim Henson's son, Brian Henson. Jim Henson created the Muppets and helped develop characters for "Sesame Street."

The trailer has divided the Henson family, as Brian's sister, Lisa Henson, is upset about the film's marketing, saying, "It makes me terribly sad that the marketing campaign for 'Happytime Murders' has devolved to this state of affairs." But Brian reportedly gave his approval to the movie's tagline, "No Sesame. All Street."

An attorney for Sesame Workshop claimed that the "Happytime Murders" trailer is bringing damage to the Sesame image in a similar way that the pornographic film "Debbie Does Dallas" did to the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders in the 1970s. But Broderick pointed out that "Debbie Does Dallas" is porn, and McCarthy's film is not. 

Broderick also said that the examples Sesame Workshop had of confused viewers were just a "handful" of cases that paled in comparison to the "millions of views of the trailer."

In a statement to CBS News, STX's "attorney," puppet Fred, Esq. said: "We fluffing love Sesame Street and we're obviously very pleased that the ruling reinforced what STX's intention was from the very beginning --- to honor the heritage of The Jim Henson Company's previous award-winning creations while drawing a clear distinction between any Muppets or Sesame Street characters and the new world Brian Henson and team created. We believe we accomplished that with the very straightforward NO SESAME, ALL STREET tagline. We look forward to continued happytimes as we prepare to release Happytime Murders this summer."  

McCarthy and Sesame Workshop were not always at odds. She appeared on "Sesame Street" in 2013 and danced with Elmo on the show. You can see the redband trailer (for mature audiences only) for "The Happytime Murders" here.

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