Projections - Movie Reviews

Happy Endings

Lisa Kudow, Steve Coogan, Bobby Cannavale, Jesse Bradford,
David Sutcliffe, Sarah Clarke, Laura Dern,
Jason Ritter, Magie Gyllenhaal and Tom Arnold

Rated: R
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: July 15, 2005 Released by: Lions Gate Films

Lisa Kudrow is back with writer-director Don Roos (Bounce) in the relationship comedy Happy Endings and as a brunette.

This tricky, somewhat humorous look at what is probably viewed as alternative lifestyles isn't as sharply sardonic and truthful as their work in The Opposite of Sex which starred Christina Ricci. Yet, Kudrow has a flair for independent features where the routine is nowhere in sight.

Roos' script has a lot going on around Kudrow's Maimie who as a teenager became pregnant by Charley (Steve Coogan), her stepbrother. She put her son up for adoption.

The story tracks her life as an adult now involved with a Mexican masseuse Javier (Bobby Cannavale of Shall We Dance?) and working as an abortion counselor. The ironic picture will begin to center around life's unusual occurrences in some ways commenting on Roe vs. Wade.

The sprawling nature of comedy on display has Maimie sort of cornered by documentary student Nicky (Jesse Bradford, currently of Heights). Apparently if she stars in his new film, he'll disclose the identity of her son, but of what consequence?

Then, there's Charley whom were told by one of some amusing title cards "is now gay." Gil (David Sutcliffe) is his new partner. We're not sure if he is the father of the baby of lesbian best friends Diane (Sarah Clarke) and Pam (Laura Dern). Charley also has some closeted affection from Otis (Jason Ritter) who has at least a passing interest in the drums.

One of the best casting choices turns out to be Maggie Gyllenhaal (Secretary, Lovely & Amazing) as the provocative Jude. She's involved in the branching narrative that includes Otis's dorky dad Frank (Tom Arnold) and definitely uses physical expression to the film's advantage. And her seductive, slouchy turn is even raised by her vocal cords.

But, despite the two appealing actresses who are able to overcome the expository excess and rambling, Happy Endings doesn't really speak with necessity to arthouse viewers looking for more than sitcom fare with a few bright lines of dialogue. This ambitious exploration raises the importance of having kids can be something that isn't always brought on by love. But, in sifting through the adult jokes and opportunity for intimacy, there's hardly the subtlety or grace notes to make one happy about it all, even at the end.

  Frank Chris Tony Jim Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Happy Endings       C+       C+

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