Happy Endings

"Good"

Happy Endings Review


A comedy-of-life roundelay about several sexually mixed-updenizens of L.A., "Happy Endings" returns writer-director DonRoos to the sardonic psychological territory he trod in his stinging black-humordebut "The Opposite of Sex."

After opening with a hysterical woman named Mamie (LisaKudrow) getting hit by a car, he introduces a humorously detached meta-filmnarration style when the screen splits in two, and words appear on a blackbackground to reassure us that "No one dies in this movie. It's acomedy. Sort of."

"What happens next," the lettering continues,"was 20 years ago" -- at which point we learn that Mamie gotknocked up at 16 and was supposed to have an abortion, but secretly gaveup the baby for adoption. The unknowing father was her stepbrother Charley(Steve Coogan), who is now gay ("Who isn't?" quips the text onthe screen) and has run the family restaurant business into the groundsince the death of their parents.

But Roos is just getting warmed up. Soon an aspiring documentaryfilmmaker (a scruffy Jesse Bradford) with zero scruples is offering angry,neurotic Mamie information about her son -- but only if he can make a movieabout their reunion. Connected more loosely to these characters are a lesbiancouple (Laura Dern and Sarah Clarke) who may have secretly conceived theirchild with Charley's boyfriend's sperm, and Jude (Maggie Gyllenhaal), ablunt and sultry free-spirited young gold-digger who seduces a sexuallyconflicted rich kid (Jason Ritter) on her way to landing a much biggerfish -- his lonely dad (Tom Arnold).

Although these stories sometimes slide in disingenuousdirections and couldn't stand on their own (they're largely predicatedon slightly deeper versions of sitcom misunderstandings), Roos has a giftfor weaving good laughs out of human failings and frailties. What's more,he knows how to churn up trauma and unsuspected depth in actors not hithertoknown for their abilities to emote.

Strong performances are to be expected from talents likeKudrow (who worked for Roos in "Sex") and the enormously giftedGyllenhaal ("Secretary"),the centers of the film's two main stories. But who would expect that often-monosyllabicArnold (known mostly for Fox's "The Best Damn Sports Show") couldfind such sad-sack heart playing an insecure father? Or that the blankstare of Ritter (son of John, who has made mostly horror movies) couldbecome a symbol of an unmolded soul? Or that Bradford (known for teen farelike "Clockstoppers"and "Swimfan"before playing gay in last month's "Heights")could so successfully tap his inner sleezeball -- and in a way that stillfinds a touch of crude charm.

"That's not a zoom, by the way," he smirks toKudrow while showing her a shot of his crotch in the movie he's making."That's the way it is -- like a penis, only bigger."

It's the fact that these characters are interesting andcomplicated that makes the ironically titled "Happy Endings"work despite Roos' sometimes obvious plot devices. Well, that and the enjoyablyodd asides of text narration that sometimes see into the future as wellas the past.

Some may see the film's self-aware commentary as a screenwritingcrutch or a cheat that takes emotional interpretation out of the audience'shands. But really it's just Roos' way of stepping back to point out thewarped but heartfelt humor in situations his characters wouldn't find funnyat all.



Happy Endings

Facts and Figures

Run time: 30 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 13th April 2011

Production compaines: Lions Gate Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Mamie, as Charley, as Jude, as Nicky, as Javier, as Otis, as Frank, as Gil, as Diane, as Pam

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.