Happiness - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Happiness Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 8, 2013
"Happiness" sure is an experience. It's an ensemble movie about miserable (and often terrible) people who are searching desperately to find ways to not be so sad anymore. I found it to be too long and didn't like the jumps in tonal extremes. I also felt that some of the stories are far less interesting than others (and the more interesting ones are also the most revolting). Still, with a great cast and engaging dialogue, it may be worth watching. Just make sure to take a shower after.
Super Reviewer
½ February 1, 2012
Todd Solondz 's film, present a jaw dropping dialoge, interesting characters, great black humor together with a tense drama, that show the life, relationships and strange sexuality of ordinary people trying to find they happiness in a disturb world. Happiness it's a bold, captivating, breathtaking and funny classic, of course Solondz's picture it's not for every audience, just the people that really understand black comedy and accept contoversial themes. It's also the first film, in a long time ago, that make a scene being sad, funny and surprising at the same time, just like Bill and Billy's last talk conclusion. Happiness is, without a doubt, one of best films from the 90's.
Super Reviewer
June 29, 2007
So many fascinating characters in one and the same movie! Indie films of this sort have a tendency to be pretentious, but I thought this was nothing of the kind. The tone is quite dark and often disturbing, but at the same it achieves a near-impossible balance, by being really funny in all its tragedy. Even Jon Lovitz, whom I don't like that much as an actor, pulls off a remarkably good performance (despite his appearance being limited to one scene alone).

Every human on this planet wants to be happy, but sometimes things don't go according to plan, and this film does an excellent job at illustrating the pain, longings and dreams we all have and go through (altough some people's desires are more weird and sickening than others). In any case, this is one of the best indie flicks I've ever seen. A little draggy here and there, but with characters so addicting, that you're in constant anticipation of what they're gonna do next.

Highly recommended, presuming you can endure the permeating awkwardness!
Super Reviewer
March 1, 2007
A collection of loosely connected suburbanites come come to terms with their own flaws and failings in their quest for elusive "happiness". Todd Solondz's tragi-comedy no doubt met with shock and outrage from the moral majority and it is hard not to suspect that he was deliberately baiting the religious right with material that is so close to the knuckle. These characters suffer rejection, isolation, insecurity and sexual frustration at the hands of their peers and even when handed their fantasies, the result is nothing less than crushing disappointment. His attitude appears to be that social awkwardness begins at the age of 11 and continues into old age and we all seem utterly powerless to do anything about it; we're born, we're miserable and we die. A lot of us will find it hard to disagree but not everyone will be able to see the funny side of rape and child molestation! The closest comparisons I can think of are the likes of Magnolia and American Beauty, but Solondz takes these ideas to their most extreme and so therefore Happiness will only be to the taste of a small minority, but those who can stomach it will find some reward in this bleakest of the bleak black comedy that's unlike anything you've ever seen before.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
½ October 26, 2011
Brutal, beautiful, and hard to watch...this film tests a viewers mind and has a cerebral aftereffect
Super Reviewer
August 31, 2011
Todd Solondz is a brillant filmmaker and "Happiness" is a masterpiece. Incredibly complex and incredibly dark, this 90's independent classic does everything right. What else can I say? It's hilarious, it's disturbing, it's controversial, it's stunningly written. If you are any sort of serious fan of cinema, you must see "Happiness."
Super Reviewer
½ August 31, 2011
I had heard a lot about this movie but I must say nothing quite prepared me for it. Strangely appealing, disturbingly hilrious and a cast of a fabulous actors playing their characters even better than they play themselves I must say that although I probably won't be watching it again I must give it the acclaim it deserves and that is high acclaim indeed.
Super Reviewer
October 12, 2007
A film that I have appreciated more and more with each subsequent viewing. Todd Solondz will probably never top this. A true masterpiece.
Super Reviewer
June 22, 2007
The child molestation part made me laugh so, so hard. And the climax was priceless. There's a lot of things I love about Happiness, to the point that it makes me uncomfortable admitting it.
Super Reviewer
October 14, 2010
If you want human misery, suffering, and inexplicable anxiety, this is the film for you. A web of relationships, some family, some neighbors, some friend of a friend, all intermingle to form the story of each individual's quest for happiness. The cast consists of actors who you wouldn't think could emphasize such pathetic struggles, but make surprising turns. Special mention to Jon Lovitz, who opens the film as the dejected date of Joy (Adams). His pitiful nature and sober appearance was one of the most nerve wrenching things I have ever seen on film. Each character has an air of hostility, fueled by their own sexual unrest, murder, pedophilia, family drama, and the trivial and vapid exchanges they go through every day. This is by far the best performance of Lara Flynn Boyle, and possibly Camryn Manheim. A great film to watch when you're actually happy.
Super Reviewer
June 19, 2010
There are many good parts in this film - namely the dialogue and performances. The opening break-up scene, Bill's explanation of his pedophilia as "making love," Kristina's confession about her crime of passion. Jane Adams, Dylan Baker, and Camryn Manheim are all quite impressive.

My main gripe is that there are no shades of meaning. Everyone's "problems" or "pursuits of happiness" are so extreme, except perhaps Billy's. The characters and circumstances seem too cooked for the sake of dysfunctional hip.
Super Reviewer
½ April 4, 2009
"If only I had been raped as a child! *Then* I would know authenticity!"

Three middle-class New Jersey sisters all have their problems with their families and sex lives.

Different aspects of Todd Solondz's film, 'Happiness', remind one of other movies. For its overall structure and the presence of Philip Seymour Hoffman in the cast, one thinks of Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Magnolia'; the portrait of dysfunctional families in suburbia brings to mind the films of Mike Leigh and Hal Hartley; the (literally) seminal humour is a far stronger version of that in 'There's Something About Mary', or 'American Pie'; while the general comedy of embarrassment, and subject material that includes paedophilia, has parallels in the work of Chris Morris. Of course, when a film reminds one of so many others, that means that either it is hopelessly derivative, or, as is happily the case for this movie, a true original. The films opening credits conclude with the announcement of its title with a splendid comic timing that tells you from the start that the meaning of the word is wholly ironic; and that there'll be no joy for its antonymously-named heroine. The overall effect is over-the-top, but when even supposedly satirical films like 'American Beauty' and 'Donnie Darko' chose to put a certain gloss on their portrait of the American suburbs, a film as brutal as this one serves as a certain refreshing antidote. It's probably a good thing that all movies aren't this extreme; but it's certainly one film you're unlikely to forget in a hurry.
Super Reviewer
½ November 2, 2007
An extremely disturbing and distressing film whose title might be one of the more misleading ones in cinema. Nothing about this movie is "happy", it's about people searching for happiness by any means possible. What makes this movie great is its ability to humanize even the most disgusting of people, such as a pedophile rapist (Dylan Baker, who gives the film's most heartbreaking and memorable performance). It's certainly not a movie for everybody (hence the reason why it's not rated), and it's definitely a film I don't imagine watching again.

It basically falls in "Mysterious Skin" territory in the sense that it does it's job well and proves its point effectively, but it's an emotionally draining experience. However, that is also a sign that it is an inescapably intense film, and one that deserves much respect. The performances from the entire cast are all outstanding, and the film's ability to be funny sometimes is a very brave and bold move by director Todd Solondz. Be aware though, it is one of the most difficult movies I've sat through, and one that will undeniably stick with me for a long time.
Super Reviewer
July 8, 2009
CAST: Jane Adams, Lara Flynn Boyle, Philip Seymour Hoffmen, Jared Harris, Cynthia Stevenson, Ben Gazzara, Dylan Baker, Jon Lovitz, Camryn Manheim, Rufus Read, Louise Lasser, Molly Shannon, Elizabeth Ashley

DIRECTED BY: Todd Solondz

SUMMARY: When a young woman rejects her current overweight suitor in a restaurant, he unexpectedly places a curse on her. The film then moves on to her sisters. One is a happily married woman with a psychiatrist husband and three kids. Unfortunately the husband develops an unnatural fascination for his 11 year old son's male classmates, fantasizes about mass killing in a park, and masturbates to teen magazines. One of his patients has an unrequited fascination for the third sister. Meanwhile the apparently stable 40 year marriage of the sister's parents suddenly unravels when he decides he has had enough and wants to live a hermit's life in Florida. Obviously, the whole movie is slightly warped in its viewpoint and certainly presents abnormal relationships among all of its parties.

MY THOUGHTS: "This is one of those movies you come away with either getting it or missing the point completely. Definitely not a movie for most.. But even if you don't like it, you will end up talking about it. It's one of the most disturbing, honest, bizarre, awkward, and yet sometimes funny movie I have ever seen. The only film I have ever seen to sum up all those words. It was hard to watch at times. I was disgusted one moment and then laughing the next. This movie is about some horrific things and I was hesitant to watch the film knowing this. But the way the director brought those moments to the screen was pure genius. You don't see it, he leaves it up to you to paint the gruesome picture in your head. It's done smart, and not dirty and gratuitous. Smart title as well, considering that's what they are all striving for or believe they have already. But this movie is far from being happy."
Super Reviewer
½ February 14, 2008
"So Fucked Up" highlight:
little kid at the end "I came! I came!"
Super Reviewer
June 26, 2008
One of my favorite comedies of all time. Never before has a film made me gasp and also be flat out hilarious at the same time. The entire cast is fantastic and it's probably one of the best written films I have seen in a long time. I never thought I would want to cry after hearing the phrase, "No, I'd probably just jerk off."
Super Reviewer
June 25, 2008
Humor mixed with shock is difficult to pull off. Todd Solondz succeeds.
Super Reviewer
½ February 18, 2007
A very twisted comedy. It dares go where the majority of films would fear to tread. However somehow it doesn't come off as offensive. It perfectly captures the misery of each character and the strange ways in which they search for their own Happiness.
Super Reviewer
½ December 14, 2006
This is a very difficult movie that varies quite a lot in quality. At times I found it to be brilliant, but at other times I found it repugnant. It chooses to take on too many postmodern ideas and in doing so sacrifices a lot of integrity. The performances are pretty excellent all around - it's worth seeing because of that, but this is still an unjustifiably difficult movie at times and the director made several bad choices. Worth watching, once.
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