This is kind of a misleading title because really it is about ugly drooling guys sitting around in their underwear getting drunk and wishing they could have violent sex with neighbors that won’t even talk to them and that kind of business. Which, in my opinion, is not all that happy. You know how Hollywood usually pretties everybody up? Like even the criminal element in motion pictures, most of the time they are a LOT better looking than anybody I ever worked with. And the same goes for stories, if it’s a true story chances are they’re gonna streamline it, water it down a little, gussy it up a little, make it look nice “for dramatic purposes.” But the truth is there are a lot of ugly motherfuckers in this world, and they do a lot of ugly things, like some of them call up women in the phone book and jack off while they talk about “I’m gonna fuck you so hard you’re gonna come out your ears” and what not, and coincidentally that is exactly what this picture is about, Happiness.
What this is is a loosely connected set of characters and every last one of these motherfuckers is really, really fucked up and sad, although some more than others. On the lesser side there is the old fellow who leaves his wife without giving a reason, says he’s not looking for anybody else, and when a woman seduces him he can’t get it up if you know what I mean. (Can’t get his dick up, or an erection in other words.) On the other side we have the psychiatrist who seems like a regular guy, until we see him buy a teen magazine, get in the backseat of his car and desperately jack off to a picture of a young boy. Not to give anything away but then he molests two boys.
There are ugly situations in this movie, ugly people, ugly behaviors, ugly topics. I mean pretty much everything is ugly, there is one gal who is hot looking but she’s ugly on the inside. This movie is inhabited with the most lonely, pathetic individuals you ever did see and this gal is complaining that she’s too successful and people like her too much.
This isn’t the deepest movie in the world, I mean if you want it to blow the lid off suburbia you’re a little bit late on that one bud. But there is something real refreshing and what not about an unflinching type of picture that doesn’t pussy out in any manner. I mean this movie steps directly onto the taboo line and starts dancin around shakin its ass. All these horrible motherfuckers and there is not even any forced redemption for them at the end to make you feel good about it. It’s just on display, warts and all. And these are some big, pussie, drippy, smelly warts, with little curly pubic hairs growing out of em.
Happiness makes jokes about topics that probaly should be left unlaughed. You heard of movies that are scary and funny, well this Todd Solondz is working on the sad and funny. The sadder it gets the funnier it gets, because it’s so sad you start to laugh. Also there is a technique used, where he puts on this saccharine type music like from an old educational film and then anything that happens you just can’t take seriously. I think my favorite part is this charming domestic scene where the spunky soccer mom type gal is rushing her two kids out the door, trying to hand them their lunches and get them to the bus on time, when they turn and notice that someone has spraypainted “SERIAL RAPIST PERVERT” across the front of their otherwise immaculate type house. It’s funny, ’cause it’s true.
This movie has a pretty negative type attitude toward the sexuality. Everybody’s problems has to do with sex – not getting any, not getting the right kind, getting it with the wrong guy, getting it with little kids, not knowing how to cum, etc. Although I disagree with that stance I do see the point that all these motherfuckers always jacking off on the phone and what not, they are sort of held prisoner to their boners. And I have to give a Vern seal of approval to a picture that attacks the oppression of the boners in such a unique and funny/sad style. Good one Todd.
This picture really stuck with me. I think it’s really well made otherwise it would have just come off like a bad john waters ripoff. It will disgust alot of people and it might hit too close to home for some people but otherwise it’s a good entertaining piece of horrifying filth and depravity. Have at it guys.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.