Happy Endings Reviews
By the end of this film, I thought that it had reached the Altman Standard in terms of its ability to cleverly combine these characters with some degree of dramatic effectiveness. I write "dramatic" intentionally because even though the title cards and other sources identify this as a comedy, I saw very little humorous about its situations or delivery. Sure, there are a couple moments that were chuckle-worthy, but that's about it.
In my sentence-summary of the film, I listed the most prominent plots, and if you think I'm being somewhat satirical, you're right. A lot of the critics' reviews of Happy Endings lamented the ludicrousness of its storylines, and from a writer's standpoint, I have to agree. However, good actors can sometimes save bad writing. The way in which each of these actors commit to their characters makes the film almost believable. Of particular note is Lisa Kudrow, with whom I, a long-time Friends hater, have never been impressed. But she scraps her ditsy-girl act, and her damaged character exudes a vulnerability that her other work didn't allow her to explore.
Also, throughout the film we get title cards explaining characters' back-stories, and this strikes me as lazy filmmaking. Instead of deftly showing the information we need, the film inundates the audience with minutiae and sly comments that have little bearing on the film's action.
Overall, though there are some significant issues from a writing perspective, the actors save this piece.
This is a black comedy and has a great cast including Maggie Gylenhaal in an early role (probably my favourite character in this. She is not especially likable, but I did like her, she plays the part in such a way that you want to make excuses for her). There's also Lisa Kudrow in sour and bitchy mode, similar to the character she played in The opposite of sex, which I think was the same director, which explains a few things. The two movies definitely have similarities.
I really liked how this movie ran so many different stories together, and how it used text to narrate some of the story. An interesting and well written story.
[font=Century Gothic]1) Actually Mamie did not have an abortion. She was talked into giving the baby up for adoption. Nicky(Jesse Bradford) has found this out and wants Mamie to help him make a documentary about the reunion process in exchange for her son's name.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]2) Charley(Steve Coogan) has since come out of the closet and owns one of the restaurants left to him by his father. He is in love with Gil(David Sutcliffe). They are friends with a lesbian couple, Diane and Pam(Sarah Clarke & Laura Dern), who have a baby conceived through a sperm bank. Charley, though, is utterly convinced that Gil is the father of the child.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]3) Otis(Jason Ritter) works at Charley's restaurant and secretly has a crush on Charley. Otis is also in a band, and in need of replacing the lead singer who is in rehab for a variety of reasons. He comes across Jude(Maggie Gyllenhaal) singing karaoke and asks her to join his band. She accepts because she is in need of a place to crash and of any kind of morals. Otis' father, Frank(Tom Arnold), a widow, is in denial over his son's sexuality and is quite wealthy. [/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Happy Endings" is a sardonic free-for-all that raises questions about the nature of paternity in our society and how honest we are all with our fellow human beings. I also think it is quite important that this is the first movie in a few years that raises the subject of abortion.([b]Correction: [/b]Somehow, I forgot all about last year's "Vera Drake." Sorry.) Don Roos does a masterful job of juggling the three interrelated storylines which only weakens when he tries to simultaneously resolve everything at the end of the film. Of the large cast, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tom Arnold, Lisa Kudrow come off the best. My main complaint is that there was simply not enough of Laura Dern.[/font]
they do actually tackle some deep issues but they don't get to melodramatic about it, unlike many other films.