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HAPPY ENDINGS (R) (2005)

Lions Gate Films

Official Site

Director: Don Roos

Producers: Holly Wiersma, Michael Paseomek

Written by: Don Roos

Cast: Lisa Kudrow, Steve Coogan, Jesse Bradford, Bobby Cannavale, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Ritter, Tom Arnold, David Sutcliffe, Sarah Clarke, Laura Dern

Rating:


People deserve Happy Endings for their troubles and toils. This is true of both fictional and real people. You should go get yours at any screening of this movie, at least vicariously. Even if you end up paying a full price ticket, you won’t regret it, unless you just don’t like relationship flicks. But relax your pretty little head. This isn’t some movie made for teenagers. It’s a lot more adult than that, and I for one really appreciate that. The last thing I need is two more pretty kids having trouble loving each other. Hell, I didn’t even need that in high school. OK, I did. You wanna fight about it?

There are many romantic comedies in the history of our society. Some of them have been quite good, and the rest generally aren’t. Whenever one fails to join the ranks of good romantic comedies, there are a few typical examples of why that could be. First, it could be completely devoid of the realities of people and relationships, as if it were written by someone only concerned with fairy tales or children’s stories. Second, it might be emo as hell, just dripping with sad, dejected characters who might have nothing better to do than voice their disappointment with how their realities do not reflect their fantasies. Third, it might completely fail to deliver on the comedy and fly dangerously close to the realm of soap opera, something the average moviegoer can watch in the comfort of his/her own home (but I wouldn’t recommend it).

The way the movie opens leaves you wondering a little about what the hell this is really all about. But as soon as the “text narrator” slides in you begin to see. Then you start to love that narrator, because it does a great job of giving you valuable information. It takes what would ordinarily be a very confusing and dull scene and gives you the context you need to understand and enjoy it. Happy Endings may be a little light on the comedy at times, but does a fascinating job with real people and real emotions, even (or especially) Tom Arnold. “Tom Arnold!?!” you ask? Yes, Tom Arnold. He’s not his regular old self, and that can say only good things. It reassured my faith in mankind and his ability as an actor that Tom could be something other than his TV and movie persona and instead fall to earth to play a human being that I am eager to empathize with. In fact, I empathize with all the characters. I just thought I’d mention Tom Arnold to surprise you. In fact everyone delivers a solid performance. Lisa Kudrow also surprised me by playing a 39-year-old without pretending to be younger. I thought Hollywood women weren’t supposed to admit aging until they were just old and couldn’t do anything but play old women. It’s so very refreshing to see these people come down from their magical places in Hollywood and do something so real for a change.

Astoundingly original for its genre, Happy Endings does a fantastic job all around with staying mature about its content. It focuses on the general theme of truth in relationships without pounding it into your head repeatedly. Several couples have their own dishonesties to deal with, and until the truth comes out they can’t receive their happy ending. However far down the line it may be. So if you remember liking romantic comedies, but feel you’ve outgrown them, think again. Happy Endings has outgrown the rest.

Have you dealt with your dishonesties? Well hurry the fuck up, Jesus is coming!

—Duncan Wright

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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