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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Happy Endings (2005)


Those only happen to women. They have all the luck and fun when it comes to massages.

It’s an interweaving of various stories, that all have to deal with issues such as money, adultery, sex, movies, relationships, being gay, being in a band, being a sperm-donor, being a parent, being a brother, being a step brother, being a step sister, and many, many more. Trust me, there’s a whole lot going on here with these people and self-indulgent their lives.

Awhile back, I was just lingering around on Netflix and I stumbled upon a little-flick called, The Opposite of Sex. Had no idea what it was, but I saw some good-buzz about it and decided to check it out. I liked it a lot and I dug what writer/director Don Roos brought to the game and how his story, as unpredictable and weird as it may be, was still pretty thought-provoking and had me interested in where it was going to go with itself. Sadly, I never got-around to actually reviewing it, but if I was to actually give it some sort of a rating, I would probably say it’s around an 8/8.5. Pretty high for a movie I just watched on a whim and that’s sort of why I was excited for this one, considering this was Roos’ return to the indie-game. Sadly, I think he left some of his “cool-parts” back in 1998, with a pregnant Christina Ricci. If only she was here, but Maggie Gyllenhaal is a good substitute, right?

What made this flick so interesting is that Roos takes all of these different stories, shows us how they relate to one-another, who these subjects are, and what exactly to expect from each and every one of them. However, it’s not just the way he sets-up these stories that make them all work, it’s how he keeps them interesting and alive through an lovely energy that is apparent through Roos’ writing and direction, right from the start. We never know where these stories are going to go and how, we just know that they’re interesting to watch, for the most-part and Roos always finds a way to add in a great-deal of ironic, and sometimes, dark humor for fair-share to keep us alive and awake.

But as the funny as the stories may be, it’s the heart of this flick that actually does work and we begin to feel that all of these characters, as goofy and weird as they may be, still have an underlining sense of humanity to them that has them come-off as believable and it’s Roos’ caring treatment of them that works so well. Yeah, not everybody here is nice person and there are definitely some people who can be declared, “absolutely despicable”, but they always felt real to me. No matter how far they may have went with their actions, and motivations for the acts that they chose, they still came-off as real people and I don’t know if that was because of the ensemble-acting, or because of Roos’ tender love and care for the actual characters themselves. It’s this frank depiction of humans, how they act, how they feel, and how they treat one another is what really resonated with me the most and even though I didn’t find myself crying as I sat and watched in my living-room, I still felt more of a connection than I ever expected.

Still, at the end of the day, I continued to think to myself, “Just what the hell was the point of all that?”. See, with Roos’ other flick, he goes to show-us that a sexual-gender shouldn’t make-up a person and their stances in life. That point is pretty obvious and not necessarily something we haven’t already seen or heard before, especially in a movie featuring homosexuals, but at least it went deeper and further than anything this movie was trying to shove-away. I don’t really even know what the whole-point of this movie was. I mean there is a lot of unpredictable moments here that sort of goes off to show how life can be so unpredictable at times, and how gay people are just like you or me, but at the end of the day, I never really “got it”.

Oh no she did not just bring up ex's?!?!

Oh no she did not just bring up ex’s?!?!

Maybe Roos was working on some sort-of higher-standard than I may have imagined, but nothing really hit me as hard as I would have liked. It’s even worse when you consider how much this guy seems to get in the way of his actors and their skills, when he constantly has a screen pop-up on the side, to tell us what happens to the characters, their motivations, and thoughts in almost half-of-the-scenes. Once, twice, or maybe even three times is fine, but it continues to pop-up every 10 minutes, just when Roos believes that his characters motivations aren’t as clear as he wants them to be. It gets in the way of actors, the audience, and most of all, the message as to what the hell is the point for focusing on all of these characters, who’s lives are as unpredictable as a sex orgy.

Even though he tries to get in the way, a bit too much I think, Roos still always allows his ensemble to give-off some great performances, especially ones from people I never expected to see ever. Tom Arnold was great as the subdued and subtle aging-father, that is sort of coming to terms with the fact that he’s getting older and starting to lose his grip when it comes to sex, love, or even being a hip and cool father like he once was. Seeing Arnold in a very-rare, dramatic-role really gives me more hope for this guy that he can do movies like these and actually make a thing or two out of not being all corny and trying to come-off as funny. Just be normal, dude, it works for ya.

Another performance here that I wasn’t expecting to like is the one given-by Jesse Bradford as the hipster-like, documentary filmmaker that is like every other young, hip person aspiring to make a living off of movies: dirty, broke, and very all-over-the-place. Bradford has never really been a stand-out in the acting-department, but the guy shows that there is more to him than just another pretty face and I actually liked his character a lot more than I ever expected to. I don’t think I’ve seen another performance from this guy that was ever really good, or hell, worth mentioning, but here, he was great with what he could do with such an obvious, and a tad thinly-written character. He still looks like he’s 15, though, I gotta give him that.

"Don't mind Uncle Stevies British-wit. They all have that."

“Don’t mind Uncle Stevies British-wit. They all have that.”

Perhaps the best out of this whole cast, and probably to nobody’s surprise is Maggie Gyllenhaal as Jude, the one and only gal that comes into this story to fuck shit-up. Gyllenhaal is great with roles like these because she uses her brass and raw-attitude to really make you despise a character who has such dirty intentions like hers, but also feel an ounce of sympathy for her as well. Jude is probably the meanest character out of this whole-bunch and ended-up staying on my mind the most, even though I have no idea just what the hell Roos was trying to say about her. At the end of the movie, we get to see these characters, where they are today, and whether or not they actually received *ahem*, “happy endings” of sorts, and there is an extra-emphasis on her character and what she’s been up to as of late. It’s weird because they make such a big-deal out of it, with very little rhyme nor reason, just the fact that she’s there to be the shit-stirrer of the whole story, for no reason. Gyllenhaal is great, but it’s really confusing as to what the hell Roos was trying to make sense out of a character like hers in the beginning of it all.

Consensus: Happy Endings starts off perfectly and keeps your attention the whole-way through, but never seems to go any further than to just make us laugh, make us feel a bit emotionally-invested in what we see, and actually realize that Tom Arnold can act. I don’t know if there was anything more than that, but if there was, I couldn’t find it.

7/10=Rental!!

"Sit back. Relax. And feast your eyes on my finest acting-performance to date."

“Sit back. Relax. And feast your eyes on my finest acting-performance to date.”

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9 responses to “Happy Endings (2005)

  1. ninvoid99 January 17, 2013 at 5:48 am

    I think this is one of the most underrated films of the 2000s. It’s really unlike anything that was out there at the time. It reminds me of an Altman film. I went to a special screening for the film back in the summer of 2005 and Jesse Bradford was there for a Q&A and I got his autograph. So far, I have his and Shane Carruth of Primer so far.

  2. colincarman January 17, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Human drama, foibles and all; he likes to push the sexual envelope; “homosexuals” is a little old-school, but ok! haha

  3. filmhipster January 17, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    Oh I’ve got to see this. lol
    I’ve never even heard of it before.

  4. Emma January 17, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    Hiya,
    Sounds like a good movie to me! Like others I haven’t actually heard of it, but will do a quick search on LoveFilm – can’t check out Blockbusters or HMV anymore :(

  5. DisneyNerd242 January 19, 2013 at 5:36 am

    This is one of my favorite movies!

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