Happy Endings weaves multiple stories to create a witty look at love family and the sheer unpredictability of life itself.System Requirements: Running Time 128 MinFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: COMEDY Rating: R UPC: 031398183723... more » Manufacturer No: 18372« less
James Morris | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 11/13/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Having tremendously enjoyed Don Roos' previous effort, the Opposite of Sex, I snapped up Happy Endings upon release of the DVD without knowing anything about it. Many of my friends didn't liked the Opposite of Sex; when I asked them why, each confessed a dislike of Lisa Kudrow. When I noticed she was also in the cast of Happy Endings, and in fact plays one of the main characters, I figured I'd better shut up about mentioning my latest acquisition to some of those friends until I had a chance to watch it. Watch it I did, and I have nothing but good things to report.
Like the Opposite of Sex, Happy Endings revolves around several gay and straight characters, with enough attention paid to both, thus ensuring that the film could appeal to a mixed audience. There is where all similarities end. While Opposite of Sex had a relatively up-front and focused plot, Happy Endings manages to juggle several plots and subplots all at once. Each of the characters lives touch other characters lives in a style not unlike that of director Robert Altman. In fact, I kept thinking that the pacing and juggling of the subplots was somewhat similar to Short Cuts, or even Crash (in the way that Crash was also compared to Altman's style). Keeping everyone sorted out in my mind became something of a chore, but I generally like films that make you think and keep you on your toes. There were one or two surprises, including several totally unexpected plot twists, and that's always good too. As a comedy I didn't laugh so much as I smiled, and I asked myself more than once, "I wonder what will happen next". As the end credits were rolling I decided I enjoyed my visit with these people, and could easily have managed to sit though even more. How often do you hear that about a movie that runs over two hours?
The cast, which includes Tom Arnold, Jason Ritter and Jesse Bradford give even and professional performances throughout. It worked in a way that good ensemble pieces always work; that is, it would be difficult to single out any one member of the cast, as they worked off each other in such a way that no one could expect all the notices. Another good thing, in my book. I am definitely going to suggest to my friends that they give Don Roos another shot, Lisa Kudrow and all. I can certainly think of worse ways to spend a couple of hours. "
Cecily Champagne | Indiana | 07/11/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I thought that "Happy Endings" contained a lot of worthy elements. That I nonetheless loathed this movie shows just how greatly it failed on every other level.
As has been outlined in other reviews, "Happy Endings" contains a number of interwoven stories, including: a mother searching for the son she gave up for adoption many years prior (*and* her Mexican masseuse/lover *and* the zany would-be documentarian who is a.) blackmailing her and b.) hoping to film her search for the now-grown child), a gay couple who is questioning the paternity of their lesbian friends' young son, and a naughty young wannabe singer who seduces a gay drummer in order to get closer to his wealthy father.
This doesn't just *seem* like a lot of story for one film ... it is a lot of story for one film. And it doesn't help that writer/director Don Roos' script is incessantly bouncy. We are thrown in and pulled out of these tangent plots without ever having a chance to develop an affection for the characters or any sympathy for their plights. Of course, some filmmakers are able to successfully weave different stories together (Altman, for an obvious example) ... so the problem with "Happy Endings" is greater than its jerky and complex storyline. The real problem is that I couldn't care less about (most of) the characters.
Another thing I very much disliked about this film was its use of narrative captions. People say that voice-over is the mark of a lazy writer. If that's true, then captions are the mark of a VERY lazy writer. And they just plain did not work well with this movie. Every time I found myself feeling somewhat absorbed by the story, Roos would throw out a "witty" and ironic caption that jerked me back to reality. It's as if he wants us to respond emotionally to his movie - but then he keeps reminding us "this is just a movie, and I'm a wry director." You can't have it both ways.
Really, Roos just comes across as manipulative to me. Take the first scene. Why does he show Lisa Kudrow being slammed by the car? Simply for the shock value - for the sake of getting our attention. There is no reason for him to jump ahead in the story and start with this scene (right after she is hit, the narrative caption informs us that she is not dead - and then it jumps back in time to when the story *actually* starts). Come to think of it, there's no reason for Kudrow to get hit by the car at all. When the story does arrive at that point (toward the end of the film), the car hits her and then nothing more comes of it. It lends nothing to the plot. Cheap. Manipulative.
With that said, there are a few very funny bits of dialogue in the film (the humorous moments, though few and far between, are deliciously black). Also, Maggie Gyllenhaal did a really great job with her character (the singing seductress). Her performance was fresh, spirited and poignant, and, by the end of the movie, she was the one person I felt a connection to. But these are hardly redeeming elements. Some people obviously like this movie, but I thought it was uninspired, confused and boring. If you want to watch a better version of "Happy Endings" - i.e. a very dark comedy that touches on drama, with a number of interwoven stories and a subversive plot - watch Todd Solondz's "Happiness." It's infinitely more compelling."
A brilliant beginning and middle can only reap a happy endin
Damian Gunn | I am everywhere | 09/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to say that `Happy Endings' will go down as one of the most fulfilling experiences I've had with cinema this year. At the film's closing I was left content and approving, never once feeling gypped or left wanting. I was completely satisfied, which is funny because I've read a few reviews where people loved everything but the ending, but to me you can't go wrong ending on a close-up of the wonderfully talented Maggie Gyllenhaal singing us a lullaby.
`Happy Endings' (a title made in reference to the act of making a massage customer EXTRA happy) is a collage of people's lives interacting and eventually coming together for a `happy ending'. We have Mamie (Kudrow) who at a young age was impregnated by her step-brother Charley (Coogan) and since then they've had very little contact. Charley is now `out of the closet' and living with is boyfriend Gil (Sutcliffe) whose best friend Pam (Dern) and her lover Diane (Clarke) have just had a son (Pam being the mother) and are starting to ware on Charley's sanity. Mamie on the other hand is involved with massage therapist Javier (Cannavale) and is not the slightest bit happy with her life, and that only gets worse after meeting Nicky (Bradford) who claims to know where her illegitimate son (the one she had with Charley and then gave up for adoption) is and wants to reunite them under the circumstance that he can film it for his documentary submission into film school.
Then we have Jude (Gyllenhaal), a young attractive floozy who joins a band fronted by Otis (Ritter), a young boy confused about his sexuality and somewhat obsessed with his boss (Charley). Jude exploits that fact, manipulating him into have sex with her in order to steer his father Frank (Arnold) away from speculation his homosexuality, and then using it as blackmail against Otis, forcing him to help her hook up with his father. She is clearly only after his money (he's loaded) and this upsets Otis, but the idea of his father condemning his sexuality leave him no choice but to assist Jude.
As these stories collide we are only drawn to each character, good and bad, and brought to an understanding of what each of them needs to be truly happy. In the end we are given one long `happy ending' showing the outcome of all of these situations and how everyone involved was affected by the outcome...all except for Jude. Her ending is pure speculation, and while that may distress some it really made sense to me. Jude was by far the most engaging and interesting character in the film, due in part to Gyllenhaal's brilliant Oscar caliber performance, and to have her be the only one to get nothing out of the interaction in a way leaves me satisfied, for she was also the most mysterious of the group, for while her intentions where clear what was unclear was her motivation.
Gyllenhaal did absolutely outstanding here, delivering a performance that outweighed most I've seen all year and definitely deserved some awards attention. Also, Kudrow did wonderful, playing against type, but not `Wonderland' against type for her character still infused the comedic timing she is so well loved for...she just honed it into a more mature comedy. Tom Arnold and Steve Coogan are also wonderfully cast, and while she's only on screen a short time, Laura Dern is always a pure delight. I would recommend this film to anyone for it truly was the most satisfying experience, one of at least, I've had for all of 2005."
Classic indy-type effort
Hinkle Goldfarb | R.R. 1 Highway 162, Butte City, California | 03/26/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Lots of hand-held shots and relationship-driven drama get around a limited budget. The knowingly self-referential indy filmmaker also has an important part in one of the three Pulp-Fiction-style relationships that eventually intertwine, somewhat incoherently.
Was the movie worth the investment in time? Yes, it's good enough for that. Lisa Kudrow and Tom Arnold are great in their roles. I wouldn't make a monetary investment in the movie though. It's not *that* good."
"I run with scissors, too."
Hansel | Singapore | 05/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't understand how people can hate this movie. At the end of it I was crying and there was an ache deep in my heart and I couldn't breathe. This isn't your happy comedy. The title is misleading, it is very bittersweet. I would say it's very similar to "Love, Actually" only better: the seemingly different stories in the beginning get connected like how one connects dots. In the end, one realises that you have to take the bitter and the sweet together."