Happy, Texas

Critics Consensus

A smart, light-hearted romantic comedy, Happy, Texas uses its well-written script and exceptional cast to prove there's still life left in the fish-out-of-water caper genre.



Total Count: 52


Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,839
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Movie Info

Happy, Texas is a fish-out-of-water comedy about two con men who escape from prison, then pose as gay lovers to hide out in a small Texas town. Mistaken for consultants to the Little Miss Fresh Squeezed Beauty Pageant, Harry (Jeremy Northam) and Wayne (Steve Zahn) go along with the ruse so they can stake out the local bank, owned by Josephine "Joe" McClintock (Ally Walker). The story kicks into high gear as Harry starts falling in love with Joe but cannot let on about his feelings. Also complicating matters is that gay Sheriff Dent (William H. Macy) has the hots for Harry, and Harry must pretend he's interested to keep the cops off his back. Meanwhile, Wayne is getting in touch with his feminine side as he tries his best to teach dance steps and flaming baton twirling to the little girls; he's also lusting after the girls' teacher, Ms. Schaefer (Ileana Douglas). Everything leads up to the big beauty pageant, where the cops are finally on Harry and Wayne's tail. First-time director Mark Illsley received wide media attention for this commercial piece, which sold to Miramax after a very public and intense bidding war. Steve Zahn's performance won him a special acting award at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, where the film premiered in dramatic competition .

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Jeremy Northam
as Harry Sawyer
Steve Zahn
as Wayne Wayne Wayne Jr.
Ally Walker
as Josephine McLintock
Illeana Douglas
as Ms. Schaefer
William H. Macy
as Sheriff Chappy Dent
Mo Gaffney
as Mrs. Bromley
Ron Perlman
as Nalhober
M.C. Gainey
as Bob Maslow
Mark Illsley
as Guard on Horse
Melissa Arnold
as Other Happy Girl
Cassie Silva
as Other Happy Girl
Tiffany Takra
as Other Happy Girl
Ed Stone
as Alton
Kiva Hoy
as Pageant Judge
Carly Fink
as `Little Light' Girl
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News & Interviews for Happy, Texas

Critic Reviews for Happy, Texas

All Critics (52) | Top Critics (11)

  • Steve Zahn shines in Illsley's feature debut, elevating this eccentric small-town comedy two notches above the level of writing. Using the fish out of water format, this Sundance premiere begins well but then declines rapidly.

    Jan 29, 2007 | Rating: B-

    Emanuel Levy

    Top Critic
  • A charming fish-out-of-water romantic comedy, the modestly budgeted Happy, Texas more than makes up in heart what it lacks in splash.

    Nov 6, 2002 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Happy, Texas is a hoot, a hilarious comedy that's smart and caring, yet sexy and ingenious enough that it just might stir up some of that elusive Full Monty-style box-office appeal.

    Feb 14, 2001 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Anybody with a soft spot for fakers, who either identifies with them or just admires their chutzpah, is going to get a kick out of Happy, Texas.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • ...a wellspring of sweet, effervescent humor that reminds us that comedies don't have to be all about fart jokes and bathroom humor.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • ...if the world is not exactly aching from a lack of fish-out-of-water criminal capers, Happy, Texas nevertheless pleasingly proves that even a shtick we've seen before can charm when it's done well.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Happy, Texas

  • Nov 26, 2012
    I thought this was a good movie with a fun cast, highlighted by Steve Zahn's performance. I think the movie does do a good job at avoiding a lot of ugly gay stereotypes by actually focusing on the characters and their actions. There is humor based around the fact that they're pretending to be gay, such as Harry dating Chappy, but it doesn't mock the characters for their lifestyle and the movie does look at the characters with a certain sweetness and lightness that makes the movie very easy to watch. So I applaud the maturity of the script. I think there is a weakness in the story development. There's just something very generic and uninspiring about the story. The writing itself is solid, but the story isn't great. It just feels like something you've already seen before and I think it's certainly an obstacle that the cast had to overcome and they do an admirable job. It's only a good film, but I think it's a very good one at that, if that makes sense. It's a very good good movie. It's got its flaws but it is ultimately an enjoyable comedy with some fine performances.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Sep 14, 2010
    My husband and I consider this one of our all time favorites. Not only did it have one of my favorite actors, William H. Macy, but the whole subject matter was hysterical. Funny, funny movie.
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer
  • Jan 24, 2010
    Tries too hard. I remember when I saw it at the time that I thought it tried too hard to be another indie film but I can't recall the comparison film so I'll leave it at that. Too much indie. Not enough goodness.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 16, 2009
    It was okay but definitely not hilarious...I think maybe I laughed once. I think the movie had a lot of potential but it fell flat.
    Megan S Super Reviewer

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