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Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)



Average Rating: 7.7/10
Reviews Counted: 153
Fresh: 142 | Rotten: 11

Mike Leigh's latest partially-improvised film is a light-hearted comedy with moments that bite, and features a brilliant star turn by Sally Hawkins.


Average Rating: 8.1/10
Critic Reviews: 40
Fresh: 39 | Rotten: 1

Mike Leigh's latest partially-improvised film is a light-hearted comedy with moments that bite, and features a brilliant star turn by Sally Hawkins.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 34,154

My Rating

Movie Info

Sally Hawkins and Eddie Marsan star in director Mike Leigh's seriocomedy concerning an eternally optimistic teacher living and working in North London. Thirty-year-old teacher Poppy (Hawkins) always has a smile on her face, and does her best to brighten the days of those around her by making small talk and cracking jokes. For the past ten years, Poppy has lived with her best friend, Zoe (Alexis Zegerman), a fellow teacher whose wry outlook on life serves as the perfect counterbalance to Poppy's


Drama, Art House & International, Comedy

Mike Leigh

Mar 10, 2009


Miramax Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (154) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (142) | Rotten (11) | DVD (13)

Hawkins wears her grin in almost every scene, but she gives us hints that this dizzy 30-year-old is deep, as are the disappointments that might have caused Poppy to don this mask. It's a performance of sustained, childlike wonder and adult wit.

November 13, 2008 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a powerful argument for optimism.

October 31, 2008 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I've never used this cliché in a review before, and God forbid I ever use it again, so pay close attention: Happy-Go-Lucky is the feel-good movie of the year.

October 31, 2008 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sally Hawkins, in a blinding, Oscar-worthy piece of acting so good you barely see it, plays Poppy, a perpetually upbeat elementary schoolteacher in London.

October 31, 2008 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Leigh pushes the story in a more interesting direction, asking whether people find happiness or simply will it on themselves.

October 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The new Mike Leigh film, Happy-Go-Lucky, is a real pleasure, and besides being Leigh's most buoyantly comic feature it's a marvelous showcase for Sally Hawkins, who has worked twice before with the British writer-director.

October 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

You just want to protect her, from the world, from everything, but really she's much stronger than you are.

August 15, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

If you leave the theater feeling uplifted (and unless your heart is made of cold gray concrete, you will), it wasn't due to manipulation, but a result of the film having honestly earned it.

June 12, 2010 Full Review Source: DCist | Comments (3)

Leigh's most visually beautiful picture since Topsy-Turvy, Happy-Go-Lucky is all about the clashing and connecting of such emotional biospheres.

August 26, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

While Sally Hawkins turns out an award-worthy performance as Poppy, I quickly became bored with her life and all the turmoil surrounding it.

April 18, 2009 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

Few actors could have pulled off this role successfully, as it requires great energy, charisma and depth to make Poppy credible and so much more than first impressions.

March 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Sally Hawkins is a comic revelation, an impish, endlessly charming sprite...

March 19, 2009 Full Review Source:

England's addlepated answer to Amelie!

March 13, 2009 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze

Fresh, spunky and well acted. Sally Hawkins is enchanting and the rest of the cast is enjoyable.

March 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

An unusually cheery movie from veteran British writer-director Mike Leigh; one of the ten best films of 2008

February 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Orange County and Long Beach Blade
Orange County and Long Beach Blade

Happy-Go-Lucky is flibbertigibbet cinema. Mike Leigh directed Sally Hawkins in this paean to a peahen. Mike Leigh, let me introduce you to Fran Drescher, Kathy Griffin, and Nancy Grace. They're your kind of women.

February 16, 2009 Full Review Source: | Comments (4)

Like anyone given over to giggling more than griping, Poppy - and as an indirect result, Happy-Go-Lucky - slowly becomes addictive.

January 30, 2009 Full Review Source: PopMatters

Initially, the new Mike Leigh film, "Happy-Go-Lucky," is so overbearing, it's a turn-off. But b the end of it, you might be calling it "Up with Poppy."

January 25, 2009 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine) | Comment (1)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

I found Poppy to be annoying, bordering on the delusional, but of course I'm a big old crab.

January 13, 2009 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm

Stop the presses! A favorable portrayal of a happy person in a movie!

January 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope | Comment (1)
Laramie Movie Scope

A cute but shallow and generally sloppy enterprise.

January 12, 2009 Full Review Source: ÜberCiné | Comment (1)

The inexplicably overrated, overbearing and overly improvised tale of peppy Poppy

January 9, 2009 Full Review Source: E! Online | Comments (8)
E! Online

The scenes between Poppy (Sally Hawkins) and driving-instructor Scott (Eddie Marsan) have real bite.

January 8, 2009 Full Review Source:

Happy-Go-Lucky isn't just a film that demonstrates the goodness of humankind, but makes you believe in it as well.

January 8, 2009
H Magazine

Almost like viewing a nature documentary. I could imagine David Attenborough's voice: 'See here this woman whose way of positively viewing life can grate on those around her.'

December 31, 2008 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

The main character in Happy-Go-Lucky will drive you to distraction. But just try looking away.

December 24, 2008 Full Review Source: What Would Toto Watch?
What Would Toto Watch?

Audience Reviews for Happy-Go-Lucky

An engaging character study about a woman blessed with a sunny disposition. It is a rare occasion that you see a protagonist who's care-free nature isn't looked down upon. Her naivety a source of contempt. Poppy the protagonist is in many ways the antithesis of a protagonist in a Sam Mendes film. She isn't cynical, jaded, or doing all in her power to not drown in the minutiae of everyday life. She is sweet, intuitive, independent, and always looking on the bright side. But rather than having her be an empty sack of smiles, Leigh fleshes her out in a way that even when you don't understand her, you root for her.
Poppy does not wish to imitate "adult" life, but the pressure to do so is ever-present. Responsibilities mount, situations change, and the desire to find someone grows stronger with each day. Her interactions with her driving teacher, a man very consumed with the idea of responsible living, are awkward, funny, poignant, and an interesting point/counterpoint on proper living.
Do I wish that Leigh would have probed a little more into what makes Poppy tick? Yes. But being my first foray into the world of Mike Leigh, I was more than pleased to spend a couple of hours with someone as unique and wonderful as Poppy.
February 13, 2012
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

This cheeky comedy about a female teacher who enjoys looking on the bright side of life feels a bit like the British reply to France's Amelie. That mostly goes for the way our main character lives her own life entirely to her own rules and enjoys every minute of it. The way this film follows its protagonist through her regular life is very different, though. Over the course of the two hours, the most exciting events in Poppy's life are her starting driving and tango lessons and meeting a nice guy. The rest of the non-existing plot is about her hanging with her friends, meeting her family, doing her job. That may sound boring and is sometimes a bit irritating due to Poppy's ever-babbling and childish enthusiasm, but it's not without a certain charm. Especially the fights with her choleric driving teacher are very entertaining, sometimes even hilarious. In the end you wonder what exactly that closer look at a couple of weeks in the life of a unique 30 year old British female was supposed to tell you. But you actually catch yourself having a smile on your face.
February 5, 2012

Super Reviewer

Poppy annoyed the crap out of me in the beginning of the movie. You start to think that maybe she has a loose screw somewhere. But when you see the people she meets, and the shit she has to deal with from other people (her driving instructor), her insane cheerfulness isn't that bad after all. It's actually quite refreshing. I'm not saying we should be more like Poppy (gawd no!) but a little more positivity doesn't harm anyone.
November 5, 2011

Super Reviewer

So awful. There are no words. Really bad. Don't watch it.
June 23, 2011
Bethany Murphy

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Be Happy (FR)
  • Happy: Un cuento sobre la felicidad (ES)
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