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Happy, Happy Reviews

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Cynthia S

Super Reviewer

March 13, 2013
An attempt at quirkiness...kind of failed. The movie itself wasn't bad, but it just seemed pointless. Apparently, someone suggested add some guys that sing a little diddy every so often, and people will love it, and say it is quirky. Nope...
c0up
c0up

Super Reviewer

June 9, 2011
'Happy, Happy'. The relationships, and the twists and turns they took got a little too far fetched for me, but loved the awkward, and unnecessarily racist humour.

I wonder how all the jokes in the scenes involving kids would go down in The States :O
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

February 21, 2013
In "Happy, Happy," Elisabeth(Maibritt Saerens), a lawyer, and Sigve(Henrik Rafaelsen) move with their adopted son Noa(Ram Shihab Ebedy) to a small town for a fresh start after Elisabeth's marital indiscretion. Aside from their volunteering for the local choir, they are warmly welcomed by neighbors Kaja(Agnes Kittelsen) and Eirik(Joachim Rafaelsen) who invite them over for game night. Then, Elisabeth and Sigve reciprocate in a night that soon turns confessional before Kaja gives Sigve a blow job.

You know you're in deep trouble as a non-musical film if the best part is the music, especially in the case of "Happy, "Happy" where the entertaining interludes performed by a quartet prove to be about the only reasons to watch this very murky film. Otherwise, it takes forever for the slim plot to kick in, as the movie without a true point of view is unsure of whether or not it is a comedy. To be honest, it is possible something got lost in translation or I didn't understand some Scandinavian cultural attitudes. That still can't explain the weird interaction between the boys which goes far beyond bullying.
Mark A

Super Reviewer

January 3, 2013
Kaja (Agnes Kittlesen) may not be the brightest bulb in the pack, but she is a delightful hausfrau who only wants to know that she is valued and loved. Her husband, Eirik (Joachim Rafaelsen), is a brute of a man, who dismisses her desires and aspirations and is raising his son to be just like him. So when the perfect couple, Sigve (Henrik Rafaelsen) and Elisabeth (Maibritt Saerens) move in next door with their adopted son, Kaja begins to understand just how bleak her life is. As events unfold, we see that there is a definite emotional train wreck in everyone's future, and those affected are powerless to avoid the looming disaster. Secrets, however, have a way of revealing themselves and although this viewer found the situation uncomfortable to watch, he could not tear himself away, either. Kaja comes off as a much stronger, more aware and resilient creature than the opening scenes would have us believe. By the end, we know that she will survive. Not only that, but the way is now open for her to thrive.
August 15, 2012
Another take on infidelity and broken marriages. Happy, Happy doesn't have much new to say on the subject itself but the film is well done, contains a well executed subplot featuring the families kids and features Cohen Brotheresque moments.
March 30, 2014
Interesting, unique.
November 9, 2012
...enjoyable and emotional ~ Kaja is overjoyed, almost too much so, at the arrival of her new neighbours in a rural area of a wintery, snow covered, Norwegian countryside ~ which does give the immediate impression that all is not well in her household. Married to Eirik (Joachhim Rafaelson), a surly and seemingly humourless charater, she welcomes the new arrivals with excess glee, almost begging them to become close friends ~ the arrivals, Elisabeth (Maibritt Saerens) & Sigve (Henrik Rafaelsen), soon note the slightly overbearing welcome is a cover up from that of a lonely woman ~ the two couples meet for dinners at each other's homes, and the desire of Kaja soon become clear ~ Elisabeth does help Kaja to emerge from the lonely life by encouraging her to sing in the choir, where Kaja soon finds she does have a talent to sing ~ but Kaja and Sigve are by now engaging in an affair ~ Eirik remains a distant, unappealing character who says the sexless existence in the marriage to Kaja is due to her not being attractive ~ and other secrets emerge during the liaisons between all parties ~ the couple's respective children strike up a friendship, and all draws to a fairly cordial finale ~ not bad...
July 15, 2013
Pretty good indie film!
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

February 21, 2013
In "Happy, Happy," Elisabeth(Maibritt Saerens), a lawyer, and Sigve(Henrik Rafaelsen) move with their adopted son Noa(Ram Shihab Ebedy) to a small town for a fresh start after Elisabeth's marital indiscretion. Aside from their volunteering for the local choir, they are warmly welcomed by neighbors Kaja(Agnes Kittelsen) and Eirik(Joachim Rafaelsen) who invite them over for game night. Then, Elisabeth and Sigve reciprocate in a night that soon turns confessional before Kaja gives Sigve a blow job.

You know you're in deep trouble as a non-musical film if the best part is the music, especially in the case of "Happy, "Happy" where the entertaining interludes performed by a quartet prove to be about the only reasons to watch this very murky film. Otherwise, it takes forever for the slim plot to kick in, as the movie without a true point of view is unsure of whether or not it is a comedy. To be honest, it is possible something got lost in translation or I didn't understand some Scandinavian cultural attitudes. That still can't explain the weird interaction between the boys which goes far beyond bullying.
Patricia G
February 3, 2013
My heart just fell apart for Kaja, the main character. She got treated terribly, but I can also see where her husband's annoyance was coming from and it wasn't Kaja. The characterization was a bit obvious, so it was more of a light-hearted movie, but still realistic. It shows the cold spectrum of emotion and shows somewhat where it comes from in Kaja's husband's case, but not the other wife's case. This is a movie that shows how kindness and patience could be mistaken for a weakness. I still feel like there wasn't much resolved when it came to the children. Now for the other couple, I'm a bit more harsh on the wife, but then again it's neither one's fault usually, but it was nice to see her warm up a bit. I can recognize her cold sense of humor, but I would've liked to see how that developed...maybe I missed some hints..
Mark A

Super Reviewer

January 3, 2013
Kaja (Agnes Kittlesen) may not be the brightest bulb in the pack, but she is a delightful hausfrau who only wants to know that she is valued and loved. Her husband, Eirik (Joachim Rafaelsen), is a brute of a man, who dismisses her desires and aspirations and is raising his son to be just like him. So when the perfect couple, Sigve (Henrik Rafaelsen) and Elisabeth (Maibritt Saerens) move in next door with their adopted son, Kaja begins to understand just how bleak her life is. As events unfold, we see that there is a definite emotional train wreck in everyone's future, and those affected are powerless to avoid the looming disaster. Secrets, however, have a way of revealing themselves and although this viewer found the situation uncomfortable to watch, he could not tear himself away, either. Kaja comes off as a much stronger, more aware and resilient creature than the opening scenes would have us believe. By the end, we know that she will survive. Not only that, but the way is now open for her to thrive.
August 22, 2012
not sure I get the Norwegian sense of humor
July 11, 2012
For our main characters, happiness is a masquerade. It often takes external forces to help one figure out that happy is a matter of perspective, of circumstance and of choice. The journey from point A to point B is messy, sometimes funny, and educational. And by the time you end up at point B, maybe, just maybe you truly are happy, or at least headed in the right direction. "Happy, Happy" shows four people on this journey in a tightly woven narrative interspersed with its own version of an ironic Greek (aka bluegrass gospel quartet) chorus. You know these people. You might even be these people. Where is your happy?
May 5, 2012
I felt "Happy Happy" when it was over, but sad sad that I had wasted almost two hours on it.
gillianren
January 26, 2012
Hypnotic Yet Dull

It's never really explained why the two children spend their spare time playing Slave. It's just a fact of this universe, the same way there is a quartet singing American folk songs. Possibly it indicates how completely out of touch with everything the village is, that a child in the twenty-first century thinks that's a perfectly acceptable thing to do. It's also true that kids do weird things and always have. My cousins used to jump out of a second-floor window all the time. (Because one of them had fallen out, and it looked like fun.) However, it's worth noting that the adults never notice what the kids are doing. They have that peculiar belief that being the same age and in the same physical location means you must be friends. Though on the other hand, they seem to believe that will happen with them as well. Possibly this is a lesson learned all the way 'round, then, but I doubt it.

Elisabeth (Maibritt Saerens) and Sigve (Henrik Rafaelsen) have come to a small Norwegian town along with their adopted Ethiopian son, Noa (Ram Shihab Ebedy). Their new neighbours are Kaja (Agnes Kittelsen) and Eirik (Joachim Rafaelsen) and their son, Theodor (Oskar Hernęs Brandsų). Kaja has been lonely, and Eirik mostly ignores her, so she latches onto Elisabeth with delight. Only Elisabeth doesn't much like Kaja and thinks she's a bit of a twit. Which, to be fair, she is. But she's eager to please. One night, the couples are playing a getting-to-know-you game. It is revealed that Elisabeth and Sigve have moved to the country to patch up their relationship after Elisabeth had an affair. Meanwhile, Kaja and Eirik haven't had sex in a year. Kaja gives Eirik oral sex in the kitchen when he goes out to comfort her. They start having a full-blown affair. And it turns out that the reason Eirik doesn't have any interest in having sex with Kaja is that, well, Sigve is really more his type.

Kaja thinks that Elisabeth and Sigve are a perfect couple, but among other things, they're lousy parents. It almost seems that they adopted Noa as a fashion statement. They certainly don't notice that the neighbour kid is making him carry baskets on his head and whipping him with towels and so forth. Of course, they don't seem to notice much about each other a lot of the time, and they certainly look down on Kaja and Eirik, even though they are the way they are mostly because they haven't had any opportunities to be anyone else. Sigve believed that taking Elisabeth and Noa away into the country was the solution to their relationship problems, and he was clearly quite astoundingly wrong about that. I'd note that he was also selfish enough so that he was willing to flaunt his affair with Kaja in front of her son, or at best not notice that he was doing it. Elisabeth eventually notices what's going on and chooses to set Kaja up for humiliation. It's pure luck that it doesn't work.

Kaja is one of those blind optimists, and I think that may have put her in the unfortunate position she was in. There's something to be said for not always looking at the bright side, and it's that you're more inclined to do something about problems if you'll acknowledge that they're there. It's quite obvious that her life isn't right. There's something wrong with her marriage that goes a bit beyond a yeast infection. She's a loving person, and she's trapped. And Eirik's attitude is rubbing off on Theodor, who flatly tells his mother that she's ugly. (My kid would have been punished for that, I assure you.) She doubtless thinks her marriage can be saved. She really does think that she and Eirik can and should have another child. She then probably thinks that she and Sigve can start a life together and everything will be fine. It's only at the end that she faces reality, and it's only at the end that she is able to take steps to make her new life worthwhile.

The character whose eventual fate I wonder about is Noa. He's not a happy child. We see him watching Obama give a speech about our core values and the fear that they are evaporating, but I can't imagine that he understands it, given there's no indication that he speaks English. In fact, he hardly speaks at all. We don't know enough about him to know what caused it. Maybe he's just a quiet kid. Some are. But he doesn't seem able to tell his parents when he's not happy with things. He doesn't seem to really feel much of anything, I think, or at least be able to express it. I doubt his opinion was asked about this particular little move. Or the move away. Every time they showed him, which wasn't often, I was struck by how dark his skin was compared to everyone around him. How dark he was compared to the snow around him. This was a child out of place, a child disregarded by pretty much everyone around him. Even the story doesn't really seem to care much about him, not enough to bother giving him a personality.
Charlie J
September 27, 2011
There are four main characters in Happy, Happy because it is about two couples; however, one of them really shines through and becomes such a pleasure to watch that it really does not matter what happens with the plot or any of the other players, she is just stunning. I am talking about Agnes Kittelsen who plays Kaja. She is almost always smiling, even when there are situations when there is nothing to smile about. She exudes positive energy and cannot help it when her actions either makes someone else around her happy or rubs someone else the wrong way.

Kaja is married to Eirik (Joachim Rafaelsen) and they appear to live in the middle of nowhere Norway. They not only own their own house, but also the one next door which they rent out to people who are usually looking to get away from the city. A city couple from Denmark does exactly that when they abruptly shift from urban to rural. The new couple next door is Sigve (Henrik Rafaelsen) and Elisabeth (Maibritt Saerens). Since there is not much else to do in the immediate locale, the two couples start sharing dinners together and playing games. These games lead to uncomfortable couple comparisons which is never a good thing. Comparing your relationship to someone else's is not the way to end the evening on a high note.

During one game, it emerges that Kaja and Eirik have not had sex in over a year and that Elisabeth has recently cheated on Sigve which was a catalyst in their decision to escape to the countryside. The couples also notice the personality clashes and matches around the dinner table. Kaja and Sigve are naturally extroverted and outwardly positive. Elisabeth and Eirik are much more reserved and while not necessarily secretive, they do not have the impulse to share their feelings around the room. These situations and personalities obviously set up what may lead to adulterous liaisons, secrets, and acrimony. However, this is not a heavy handed drama about adultery and revenge. There are laughs, comedic scenes, and an overall light air around the decisions these couples make in response to one another.

Each couple also has a son, although Sigve and Elisabeth's son is adopted and black. There are scenes between the two boys, who seem to be around seven years old, which do the film no credit and do not fit. Their sequences are only peripheral to the plot and have no bearing on any central themes, which is all the more puzzling why they are even there. Their interactions disrupt the light flow and mood of the movie and should either be completely rewritten or just taken out.

Happy, Happy won the Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic World Cinema at this year's Sundance Film Festival and is also Norway's official submission for the 2012 Academy Awards. It approaches its characters with maturity and understanding, characteristics true for most Scandinavian films but frequently lacking in American ones. It is also challenging to classify Happy, Happy as just a comedy or a drama. There are not very many jokes or moments to laugh at but there are also very few emotional moments which aim for true drama either; it carves out a distinct middle ground.

I recommend Happy, Happy for those of us who like Scandinavian films and appreciate movies which take their characters seriously. Thank goodness there are no slapstick moments here which would not fit and no downright weepy 'woe is me' segments. Just lose the scenes with the kids and then you would really have a heck of film on your hands.
September 15, 2011
No surprise. Just another well-made scandinavian comedy.
July 10, 2011
Well acted but poorly written. The character development did not ring true.. no t consistent throughout the movie. Like the closeted homosexual guy suddenly trying to kiss the straight married guy. Also the takeouts with the singers was distracting, as if the story was not good enough to be interesting..
Nicole S.
January 27, 2011
The first half was amazing, one of the funniest movies I have seen in a while. The second half turned predictable and a bit boring, but I would still recommend seeing it.
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