Happiness

1998

Happiness (1998)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The lives of many individuals connected by the desire for happiness, often from sources usually considered dark or evil.

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Cast

Jane Adams (II)
as Joy Jordan
Jon Lovitz
as Andy Kornbluth
Dylan Baker
as Bill Maplewood
Lara Flynn Boyle
as Helen Jordan
Ben Gazzara
as Lenny Jordan
Marla Maples
as Ann Chambeau
Cynthia Stevenson
as Trish Maplewood
Elizabeth Ashley
as Diane Freed
Louise Lasser
as Mona Jordan
Rufus Read
as Billy Maplewood
Anne Bobby
as Rhonda
Dan Moran
as Joe Grasso
Evan Silverberg
as Johnny Grasso
Justin Elvin
as Timmy Maplewood
Lila Glantzman-Leib
as Chloe Maplewood
Gerry Becker
as Psychiatrist
Arthur J. Nascarella
as Detective Berman
Eric Marcus
as Courteous Waiter
Eytan Mirsky
as Angry Picketer
Lisa Louise Langford
as Radical Picketer
Socorro Santiago
as Crying Teacher
Allison Furman
as Consoling Teacher
Wai Ching Ho
as Student No. 1
Bina Sharif
as Student No. 2
Tsepo Mokone
as Student No. 3
Hope Pomerance
as Hysterical Woman
Johann Carlo
as Betty Grasso
Joe Lisi
as Police Detective
Olga Stepanova
as Zhenia's Mother
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News & Interviews for Happiness

Critic Reviews for Happiness

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (12)

As sharp as some of the writing is, Solondz is still not enough of a director to successfully negotiate this emotional minefield.

Feb 7, 2018 | Full Review…
CNN.com
Top Critic

I, for one, would be thrilled to see Solondz's heart open in his future work. But it would be a mistake to flinch from the greatness of Happiness in the meantime.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Exhibits an almost pitch-perfect balance between condescension and compassion.

Oct 20, 2009 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Happiness is tough stuff -- quietly confrontational, genuinely haunting, and, most disturbing of all, unexpectedly moving.

Sep 17, 2007 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

By far Solondz's best film, an original exploration of American suburban angst, with three Chekhovian sisters at the center and a gallery of "deviant" characters that are presented with humor in non-judgmental way.

Oct 10, 2006 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

It'll soon have you quoting German existential philosophers in coming to terms with it . . .

Sep 24, 2003 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Happiness

"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.

Sam Barnett
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

½

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.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

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!

Mike S
Mike S

Super Reviewer

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.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

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