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Happy Endings (SE)
DVD disk
Nov 15, 2005 By: Jason Coleman
Happy Endings (SE) order
Director:
Don Roos

Actors:
Tom Arnold
Lisa Kudrow
Maggie Gyllenhaal

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Its an interweaving of various stories, all slices of life about love and family. A frank look at real people and the strengths and flaws that make them human.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
There is a fine line between subversive and just being pretentious. HAPPY ENDINGS is a film that, on the surface, has a tremendous amount of depth. But, like a lot of Director Don Roos films, the story is so immersed in being impressed with itself that it doesnt have time to just be. Though here, Roos finally goes completely bonkers, adding in titles that annoyingly pop up throughout the entire film. Its a device that is intended to be witty and cutting edge, but becomes tiresome, as if Roos didnt think his audience was smart enough to get the joke without it being rammed down their throat. Subtext is supposed to come through things like story and, mostly, through an actors performance. To cheat them out of the chance to let their work shine seems like the work of an amateur.

And Roos does have a great bunch of talents to play with here, from greats like Kudrow, Gyllenhaal and Laura Dern, to Tom Arnold, who gives a very honest performance as an aging father. (Sarah Clarke, who was so great as the evil Nina Myers on TVs 24, is totally wasted here.) But theyre overshadowed by a story that is unsure of what it wants to be and where it wants to go. I did like some elements of the film and, at times, found myself engrossed in what was going to happen. But as soon as I started to really get involved in a characters journey, Roos words flashed on the screen, as if reminding the audience, Hey guys, youre watching a movie! My advice in the future theres no need for constant titles, let the work speak for itself.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary (with Director Don Roos, Director of Photography Clark Mathis, and Actress Lisa Kudrow): Roos divulges that he used titles throughout the film because he had already used voice over in his earlier film THE OPPOSITE OF SEX. (Also that he was inspired to do it after seeing it in a reality show!?) Nothing mind blowing here, just the three of them telling stories and recollections, no real insight into the what makes a filmmaker like Roos tick. Let me just say that I was happy when it ended.

Making Of (1:22): This Making of Doc starts with the traditional ass kissing session, then goes to everyone explaining their characters and what they think the film is about. Lots of film footage here, with almost no on set and behind the scenes stuff. This is an advertisement, not a making of.

Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary (15:18): A series of 10 deleted scenes, mostly short and all lackluster. The commentary is scarce, with those long pauses that every fan loves. At one point someone states that they are embarrassed by these scenes, I couldnt agree more. We see nothing great, we learn nothing great, a waste of time.

Gags With Optional Commentary (4:15): This starts with outtakes of Tom Arnold telling dirty jokes at the dinner table (which range from mildly funny to lame), then goes to various scenes of people breaking up. Theyre laughing, Im not. As for the optional commentary, the three chime in a full minute late, laughing and proceed to, again, make few comments. Why have a commentary at all? (And by the way, and this goes for all of those who do commentaries, dont just sit and watch dammit, talk!)

Montage With Optional Commentary (2:39): At least theyre talking here! A montage of unused beginnings and endings to various scenes. The commentary is a must on this one, as the montage itself is a borefest.

There is also a Trailers section featuring CRASH, RIZE, SLIPSTREAM, A KILLER UPSTAIRS, WEEDS, and LORD OF WAR.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
There is nothing more satisfying in a character driven film, than watching an actor give a performance that is more then what was just written on the page. HAPPY ENDINGS is a film that has both subtle character work and intriguing stories. Its just a shame that Director Roos didnt trust his actors more. Throwing up title cards that obtrusively block the film, isnt interesting, its distracting. This DVD, the film, extras and all, are strictly for die hard fans of Don Roos, but for all others, the ending here is not going to be a happy one.
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