Happy Valley (2014)



Critic Consensus: Sober, even-handed, and quietly devastating, Happy Valley illuminates the wreckage of a tragedy while leaving viewers room to draw their own conclusions.

Movie Info

In his newest film, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev (My Kid Could Paint That, The Tillman Story) takes audiences on a thought-provoking journey into the town of State College, the home of Penn State University, an area long known as "Happy Valley." The film delves into the culture of a school, town and country where football is religion; into the world of Joe Paterno, Penn State's iconic head football coach for over four decades; and into the days, months and years leading up to … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Drama
Directed By: ,
Written By: Amir Bar-Lev, Dave McKenna
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 7, 2015
Box Office: $22.7k
Music Box Films - Official Site


as Joe Paterno
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Critic Reviews for Happy Valley

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (13)

It's not a groundbreaking thesis, but we still get a fascinating tour of a town that may never be the same again.

Full Review… | December 4, 2014
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

The film could've benefited from another 15 or 20 minutes of detail and nuance. What's there, though, is strong, thoughtful and disturbing.

Full Review… | November 27, 2014
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Here it is, folks, in your face. Will you look or return to your own private Happy Valley?

Full Review… | November 21, 2014
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

[A] thorough, thoughtful and disturbing documentary ...

Full Review… | November 20, 2014
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

The documentary offers a compelling overview of the case, but Bar-Lev spends too much time painting Paterno as a victim and scapegoat. That advocacy doesn't sit well.

Full Review… | November 20, 2014
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Less an investigation into or comprehensive summary of the Penn State sex-abuse scandal than a look at the feelings it elicited, Amir Bar-Lev's Happy Valley is more concerned with the phenomenon of team spirit than any single question of fact.

Full Review… | November 20, 2014
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Happy Valley

At first, the documentary doesn't seem to have any perspective until it gradually reveals a disturbing thesis . . . that people will generally disregard some of the worst things imaginable in favor of keeping their symbols and heroes intact. The fact that most of the people in this town and at this college seem to care more about Football stats than the rape of children is the perfect demonstration of humankind at it's most callous and psychotic.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

A very well done documentary about the horrific and unfortunate events surrounding the Penn State sex abuse scandal.

Probably too long for its own good, but still takes you on a fascinating ride of hero-worship and villain scapegoating surrounding a tragic set of events.

Xander Kennedy

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