Happy, Texas (1999)

How Steve Zahn got his start, playing Steve Zahn.

Mistaken as consultants to a beauty pageant in the town of Happy, Texas, two escaped convicts go along with the ruse, masquerading as gay lovers Harry (Jeremy Northam) and Wayne (Steve Zahn). In trying to teach Happy’s Junior Misses to win, the two run up against a sheriff (William H. Macy) with the hots for Harry, and a local teacher (Illeana Douglas) catches Wayne’s eye.

The film starts out with what is probably one of the oldest stories in the book, the escaped capers/fish-out-of-water story, I mean we even saw it in Shakespeare. But it just proves that old wine can sometimes have a fresh taste.

The film really does go through a lot of changes without ever going too far out of hand. However, I felt like there were some parts when the film got too in the element of trying to be cute was very very light for this film, and obvious. When Harry is trying to act gay towards the local teacher and everything its pretty obvious that he was not gay by the way he talked, spoke to her, and at times even touched her. I just couldn’t believe she didn’t pick up on that.

Just homophobic enough to be offensive to gays, not funny enough to be a genuine spoof. A sample of the dialogue: “You know, you spoke better when you were gay.” I just think that some of these lines in the movie were in bad taste for jokes, cause it went diving right in to the gay jokes, and really those aren’t very funny after awhile.

The one thing I will say about this film is that it does have some good humor despite the gay jokes. It looks they were having a lot of fun with this material, and almost all of that fun pours out right onto us through the screen. The little twists and turns of this story actually don’t get involved with any of this humor so we’re not taken away by it at all.

The performances from the cast are very very good. But the best in my opinion come from the supporters Zahn and H. Macy. Zahn uses a lot of his crazy eccentric styles to make his scenes work, as well as his psychical humor which is just terrific. But H. Macy does a very sweet job at playing this very awkward cop, who always finds new meaning in life with everything he does.

Consensus: Though some of the jokes are out of bad taste, but Happy, Texas has fun humor, hilarious acting, and a given proof that fish-out-of-water capers aren’t at all out of style.


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