Happy Endings Reviews

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Super Reviewer
August 4, 2011
movie is so-so
Super Reviewer
March 31, 2011
Multiple intersecting stories, including plots about blackmail, stolen sperm, and a woman who fucks a gay drummer and his father, are at the center of this Robert Altman imitation.
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.
Super Reviewer
½ January 20, 2008
This is a great movie. I first watched it a few years ago, and I couldn't remember a great deal about it, aside from that I enjoyed it. Had a few hours this afternoon, (and I mean that literally, it is over 2 hours long).
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.
Super Reviewer
November 18, 2009
A really interesting story and quite a few likable characters. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lisa Kudrow, Steve Coogan and Jesse Bradford all give really good performances, while some of the other actors seem to go unnoticed. The stories are all pretty interesting and have a very different feel to each one, which was really an interesting approach.
Super Reviewer
January 15, 2008
Its a funny movie -- a bunch of characters intertwined - gay and straight, honest or not. Perhaps it was too late in the evening when I watched it, but I was having troubles with all the connections even though they do their best to explain them to you.
Super Reviewer
½ August 12, 2007
So it wasn't exactly a cinematic masterpiece, but you know what? It was fun. Really fun. And ohmanohman do I love Lisa Kudrow in this.
Super Reviewer
½ November 9, 2006
Kinda odd, but it was okay to watch.
Super Reviewer
½ July 24, 2005
[font=Century Gothic]"Happy Endings" starts out with Mamie(Lisa Kudrow) being hit by a car...and then flashes back to when Mamie was 17 and she got pregnant by her step-brother, Charley. Mamie goes off to Arizona to have an abortion. That in turn sets up the three storylines of the movie:[/font]

[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]
Super Reviewer
May 27, 2007
An extremely well written, directed and acted movie of the kind that only independent cinema could ever offer. This takes the now familiar device of intertwining characters and storylines (a la Go, Heights, Look Both Ways etc.) and breathes new life into it. The film shows a fundamental truth of human nature; that people lie. And not always to be deceptive, but out of habit, or because it's easier, or without realising it. Don Roos, as in his earlier flick The Opposite of Sex, writes vivid, multi-layered and three-dimensional characters, and shifts between them and their different storylines effortlessly. In addition to the excellent writing and direction, the film is graced with a compeling cast, all of whom deliver fantastic performances. I always enjoy Lisa Kudrow's work outside of Friends, and this is probably her finest film to date. Maggie Gyllenhaal excels with typical flair as a sultry, coniving character that lesser actors would've portrayed as unsympathetic or overly kooky. Instead, Gylenhaal gives a finely nuanced performance, and who would've thought she'd have a great singing voice too? Jesse Bradford is as good here as he was in Heights but plays a very different character, showing he has talent with the right director guiding him. And Steve Coogan especially impresses with an emotionally heavy role, despite a pretty wobbly accent. If you want to see what a talented writer/director and a great cast can do on a small budget, then look no further.
Super Reviewer
August 10, 2007
Jason Ritter is great in this and I really like it's dark humor.
Super Reviewer
½ December 19, 2007
Super Reviewer
June 6, 2007
A must-see, just for Gyllenhaal's singing. Special kudos go to Kudrow and Jesse Bradford. Coogan is a little uncomfortable though.
½ April 13, 2008
You can't find too much fault in a movie that actually mines a decent acting performance out of Tom Arnold of all people. Happy Endings centers on the lovely Maggie Gyllenhall as a singer sleeping with both Tom and his gay son (Jason Ritter). Add to the the never dull Lisa Kudrow out to find the son she gave up for adoption, with comedian Steve Coogan brooding over the fact that his lover (David Sutcliffe) provided the sperm that produced a baby for their two best lesbian friends (Laura Dern and Sarah Clarke). Writer-director Don Roos is an expert at blending angst with comedic wit, as he did so remarkably in The Opposite of Sex, but here he's more coasting. Happy Endings is a film that rambles and loses any sense of center. Still, Roos is not one to shy away from provocation. He's got that going for him.
½ May 13, 2012
Did all these critics watch the same movie I did? It's LOUSY, did I say lousy, yes terrible. It wasn't funny at all. People's idea of humor sometimes really escapes me. This was like a college project movie gone bad.
March 24, 2012
A good example of how not to make an ensemble movie. The 3 intersecting stories are just not interesting enough, and never really come together. It doesn't even work as a comedy. Overall the movie is confused, uninspired and boring.
½ November 15, 2011
Decent, but it's been a few months since I've watched it. I can remember the plot as a whole, but the details are fuzzy. That should tell you a lot about this film.
½ June 25, 2007
Very good character based film about flawed people and dishonesty. Interesting story telling style ties 3 intermingling plots together in a very good way.. a new favorite
½ November 10, 2009
Well acted enough but you end up not caring about anyone or anything in this movie. It seemed longer than a Lord of the Rings directors cut.
February 21, 2008
A quirky comedy... The characters are not necessarily likable but on the other hand, their flaws aren't anything you would fault them for... so in the end, you feel happy knowing that they have "happy endings"... and if you feel that way about them, then the movie was able to accomplish its intention of allowing you to relate to the characters. By the way, it seems quite coincidental that many times when I watch movies, the same actor or actress ends up in them. In this case, it's Maggie Gyllenhaal. I just finished watching Stranger than Fiction, and then watched this movie, too. Last month I saw Delicatessen, and recently I saw Diva, both with Dominique Pinon. PS. I didn't realize Otis was played by Jason Ritter, John Ritter's son.
July 29, 2007
happy endings was a decent enough film. good to see a character study that doesn't get too intense and self righteous. Lisa kudrow is pretty good in this movie. there's some pretty bizarre Maggie Gyllenhall on Tom Arnold action in this. and a lovely appearance by laura dern.
they do actually tackle some deep issues but they don't get to melodramatic about it, unlike many other films.
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