Friday, October 16, 2009


24 minutes. That's how far I got into Happiness before giving up. To be fair, I didn't strictly turn it off - it's playing as I type - but I cannot sit through it. I made it all the way through Tomorrow We Move. I made it to the end of Fat Girl. Japon? I didn't even turn it off during the 90 year old sex scene. I've seen the entirety of all manner of irredeemable crap, but this defeated me after 24 minutes.

What is it about Happiness that makes me unable to bear it? It all started with the first scene. Jon Lovitz is on an awkward date with Jane Adams, gets dumped and starts crying. Then he gets angry. It's uncomfortable, unbearable, and unwatchable. More importantly, it's difficult to care about either character in the scene, since it opens at the end of their relationship and both characters haven't even been established yet. The message seems to be "Oh we're going with an ironic title here, hope you're prepared for two and a half hours of depressed people!"

And boy oh boy there are some depressed people! Joining the miserable brigade is sexually frustrated (and briefly shirtless) Philip Seymour Hoffman, playing a man who has uncomfortable and improbable fantasies about a sexy neighbour. Dylan Baker, playing a pedophile. The woman who plays his wife...playing his wife. Oh, and then some old people hate each other. See, Happiness! Feel the irony, swim in it, make it into an idiotic pop song.

Why am I going to willingly subject myself to the neurosis of the various uninteresting yet incomprehensibly dire predicaments of these characters? Why on earth do I care what happens to any of them, since they're at best boring, though for the most part they're thoroughly objectionable. Maybe it redeems itself somewhere in the remaining two hours, I'm judging it on a fraction of the total running time here, but my lord if I had to set through any more miserablist twaddle I would have had to shoot myself. As I do not want to shoot myself, I couldn't do it anymore.

Some people have called the film darkly comic. How? Where is the comedy here? Am I supposed to find humor in the unrelenting miserableness of it all? Am I supposed to be compelled to find out what happens to the uninteresting and unlikable characters? Well, sorry, I just don't. I can't sit and be bludgeoned with a bat of depression. I simply don't find two hours of bleak misery worth watching.

Unfortunately, I'm saying this at 24 minutes. Can I be trusted to give an opinion on a movie I couldn't stand to watch all the way through? Yeah, the first 24 minutes could be terrible, but there's so much more movie, maybe it all turns around? I...don't care. Well, the dialog playing in the background suggests that I'm right to have walked away, but honestly, I can't imagine how it could possibly redeem itself.

I like smart, visually interesting movies. I like movies that are funny, movies that are entertaining, and movies with interesting stories. I don't like to sit and wallow in someone else's misery. Other people love stuff like this, they call it thought provoking, subversive and dangerous. Honestly? I don't see it. What I see, and hear, is like an overcast day, light drizzle, that dull gray of a dreary afternoon. It's a slightly miserable nothing. I like sunshine, I like rain, I like thunderstorms and snowstorms and anything of that nature. Why? Because something's happening. Stuff like this, there's nothing happening but dreary misery. I can't accept dreary misery. And I can't accept this movie.

You win, Happiness. May we never cross paths again.

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