Happiness has been mired in controversy for the entire year, and not without good reason. Put simply, Happiness is one of the most shocking films I've ever seen - this from a man who adores A Clockwork Orange.
Not that it's particularly graphic or lewd. Rather, Happiness is truly eye-opening for its theme: that everyone in this world is pretty much a pig of some sort. Those that aren't are doomed to be victims.
Watching the film, you get the idea that director Solondz (Welcome to the Dollhouse) may not be too far off the mark. A disturbing investigation into the underbelly of suburban New Jersey, the film tracks a few days in the life of one highly dysfunctional family and the people with whom their lives intersect. Namely, an obscene phone caller, a murderous neighbor, a pedophilic serial rapist/family dad, a suicidal loser... and that's not even including the three sisters themselves. There's no one redeemable in this movie.
And that fits it to a "T". Unlike Your Friends and Neighbors, which showed a bunch of pitiful losers interacting with one another to no ultimate end, Happiness shows how a bunch of losers can watch their lives get even more pitiful -- and downright disturbing - when the seams in society start to crack.
Happiness is not for everyone. In fact, it may not be for many of you, unless you have a strong stomach and a taste for the bizarre. And Happiness may not be perfect, either. It's too long, it rambles from time to time, and there's probably one too many characters to follow. But the film's boundary pushing, gripping storytelling, and truer-than-life moments make up for it all.
Happiness... is a warm gun. (Dylan, with casualties in background)
Run time: 134 mins
In Theaters: Friday 16th October 1998
Distributed by: Trimark Pictures
Production compaines: Good Machine, Killer Films
Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 39 Rotten: 7
IMDB: 7.8 / 10
Director: Todd Solondz
Screenwriter: Todd Solondz
Starring: Jane Adams as Joy Jordan, Jon Lovitz as Andy Kornbluth, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Allen, Dylan Baker as Bill Maplewood, Evan Silverberg as Johnny Grasso, Rufus Read as Billy Maplewood, Justin Elvin as Timmy Maplewood, Lara Flynn Boyle as Helen Jordan, Cynthia Stevenson as Trish Maplewood, Lila Glantzman-Leib as Chloe Maplewood, Gerry Becker as Psychiatrist, Louise Lasser as Mona Jordan, Ben Gazzara as Lenny Jordan, Camryn Manheim as Kristina, Arthur J. Nascarella as Detective Berman, Molly Shannon as Nancy
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