a film by Don Roos
2005 | 133 mins | US
›› Happy Endings
three separate stories interlaced into one
Happy Endings by Don Roos From the director who gave us THE OPPOSITE OF SEX fame, comes this ambitious ensemble work that interlaces three separate stories into one overall narrative. It begins with Lisa Kudrow as the character Mamie Toll running for her life, followed by Steve Coogan as Charley rushing to her rescue for reasons that the film then goes back on itself to explain. For Mamie is an abortion counsellor, only one who could do with some counselling herself, given her Latin American lover and working masseur Javier has a secret of his own and one destined to come out in the wash courtesy of the arrival in her life of Nicky; a wannabe filmmaker who blackmails her into helping him produce his 'pivotal' American Film Institute work.

Meanwhile in the same linear time frame gay restaurateur Charley is becoming paranoid in his quest to discover the true parentage of the baby to his partner Gils' lesbian best friends, Diane and Pam. And then there's Jude; a singer with loose morals who seizes the opportunity to advance her career by knowing that the fastest way to marry a millionaire is by bedding his in-the-closet gay son...er run that by me again! Oh and did I mention that the gay son in question just happens to work in the same restaurant owned by Charley. And that Charley just happens to be Mamie's stepbrother, whose partner Javier is the subject of the documentary being made by budding director Nicky!

Happy Endings by Don Roos Confused? Then don't be. For this work arrives with some nifty title graphics that explain elements of the story that lie outside of its timeline. Yet these celluloid footnotes whilst amusing at first, soon end up as annoying, signaling as they do that the narrative alone cannot convey the full picture. Not that this is to take anything away from some highly spirited performances. Notably from Lisa Kudrow who excels in the role of a woman whose life is rapidly spiraling out of control. Not to be outclassed, Steve Coogan delivers a fine portrayal of a man wrapped up in personal paranoia, whilst Maggie Gyllenhaal as Jude revels in the role of the seductress with a heart, in a performance that is nicely countered by Tom Arnold as a middle aged man in dire need of some TLC.

In short, there's a lot going on in this film, not only given the complexity of the script, but by way of the sheer emotional state of the characters. Only whilst Roos attempts to work magic, the end product suffers from too many words, spoken by characters that in the main, aren't particularly likeable. That aside, each storyline is rightfully given its own cinematic conclusion, multiple endings that it has to be said prove to be happier for some, than others!
screened as part of the 20th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2006: Opening Night Gala
available on DVD as part of the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment catalogue
starring: Lisa Kudrow, Steve Coogan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Bobby Cannavale, Jesse Bradford,
Jason Ritter, Tom Arnold, David Sutcliffe, Sarah Clarke, Laura Dern,
Hallee Hirsh, Eric Jungmann
Copyright 2006 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #115
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