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This is definitely one of the more intense films I've ever seen. It is not for everyone but I happen to have a very dark, twisted sense of humor. If you're like me, you'll find this one to be a keeper. People who say that this movie isn't funny just don't understand destructive humor. The jokes are often vicious & brutal you'll find yourself laughing then wondering if you're a bad person for doing so.

-Jeff Clark ~ debaser@mindspring.com quote

A must-see (but not for the weak)

by Ula on 5/29/1999

One of the most intense viewing experiences I've had in a while, and possibly one of the most f'ed up and darkest films out there. It's a very believable and honest movie, which is exactly why it's so unsettling as it just cuts right to the bone with absolutely no reservations. You may not like it (and most likely won't unless you have a jet-black sense of humor), but you won't be unmoved.

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A great step

by Phil on 6/1/1999

Todd Solondz' second film shows a great step from his first effort.

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Product Overview

Meet three sisters at the center of a struggle with the secret demons of middle class perfection. There's joy who is rebounding from a break-up with her latest loser boyfriend, helen a glamorous writer looking for drama in a relationship with a obscene phone caller and trish the housewife.


Studio Lions Gate
SKU 40110304
UPC 031398702337
UPC 14 00031398702337
Format DVD
Release Date 9/14/2004
Rating UR
Theatrical Release
Editors Note
Note Building on the darkly comic angst of WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE, Todd Solondz's HAPPINESS conveys suburban desperation and frustration on a larger scale than his previous film. The ensemble cast of characters centers around the lives of three sisters: Joy (Jane Adams), an awkward, naive, and unlucky musician; Helen (Lara Flynn Boyle), a beautiful, self-obsessed writer; and Trish (Cynthia Stevenson), a conservative housewife who is married to Bill (Dylan Baker), a psychiatrist harboring an unhealthy fascination for young boys. Other dysfunctional characters include the sisters' unhappy parents, Lenny and Mona Jordan (Ben Gazzara and Louise Lasser), and the lonely, sex-obsessed Allen (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who lives next to Helen and goes to Bill for therapy.| |At once both scathingly funny and shockingly bleak, HAPPINESS addresses subjects that most films are afraid to touch, including pedophilia and masturbation. Unapologetic and unflinching, Solondz's film features bold performances from the entire cast and makes for uneasy but intriguing viewing as it peers behind the fragile facade of the American dream.
Plot Summary
Summary HAPPINESS fleshes out its grim stories through graphic portraits of aberrant relationships and individual obsessions. The film, centered around three sisters who struggle with the monotony of bourgeois life, leaves the viewer both laughing and gasping, hopelessly reaching for explanations for the behavior of the characters and the cruelty of their uncompromising circumstances. Pedophilia and dark sexual and psychological fantasies are featured as director Todd Solondz (WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE) drags each player in this brightly colored yet depressing party to the brink of their insecurities with marvelous precision and without qualm. The strong cast features Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dylan Baker, Lara Flynn Boyle, Ben Gazzara, and Louise Lasser.
Memorable Quotes
Quote "It's good that we had this talk. Before things went too far...you know, got too serious."--Joy Jordan (Jane Adams) to Andy Kornbluth (Jon Lovitz) |"Yeah...(long pause]...are you sure?"--Andy |"Yes."--Joy |"Is it someone else?"--Andy |"No, it's just you."--Joy
Quote "I bore people. People look at me and get bored. People listen to me and they zone out. Bored. 'Who is that boring person,' they think. 'I have never before met anyone so boring.'"--Allen (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to his therapist Bill Maplewood (Dylan Baker)
Quote "I'm just so tired of being admired all the time."--Helen Jordan (Lara Flynn Boyle) to her sister Trish Maplewood (Cynthia Stevenson)
Quote "Well, I may 'have it all' [makes quote marks in the air] but, you know, sometimes I wonder what my life might have been like if I'd actually tried to write a novel."--Trish to Helen |"I'm sure it would've been good."--Helen
Quote "Don't feel guilty."--Diane Freed (Elizabeth Ashley) to Lenny Jordan (Ben Gazzara), after they've kissed |"I don't. I don't feel anything."--Lenny
Quote "We all have our pluses and minuses..."--Allen to Kristina (Camryn Manheim), after she's confessed to a heinous crime
Quote "So was Mrs. Paley sick, honey?"--Trish to her son Billy (Rufus Read) |"Well, everyone said she was just too strung out..."--Billy |"Now why do people say things like that?"--Trish|"Because she's a drug addict."--Billy
Quote "I'm not laughing at you...I'm laughing with you."--Helen |"But I'm not laughing..."--Joy
Sight and Sound "...HAPPINESS stretches its taboo subject matter to the limits..." 03/??/1999 p.44
Rolling Stone "...Unique and unmissable....HAPPINESS is potently funny and painfully affecting, often at the same time..." 10/29/1998 p.80
Entertainment Weekly "...Tender, shocking, cathartically honest....Solondz leaves us giddy....Breaks through to haunted levels of erotic compulsion that place it close to the hypnotic artistry of BLUE VELVET..." -- Rating: A 11/06/1998 p.56
Box Office "...A superb black comedy....HAPPINESS leaves viewers feeling disturbed, amazed, and fascinated..." 07/01/1998 p.126
Premiere "...[A] marvelous, multifaceted, and endlessly unsettling third feature....[Solondz is] an imaginative, witty, and deeply subversive filmmaker..." 11/01/1998 p.32
Los Angeles Times "...Solondz has an impeccable ear for current speech patterns....He also has a gift for skewering self-centeredness..." 10/16/1998 p.C1
Total Film "...Blackly comic, yet touching and sympathetic, it never flinches in its depiction of human darkness..." 07/01/2003 p.137
Todd Solondz
Dylan Baker
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Cast & Crew
Ben Gazzara - Actor
Camryn Manheim - Actor
Dylan Baker - Actor
Jane Adams - Actor
Jon Lovitz - Actor
Lara Flynn Boyle - Actor
Philip Seymore Hoffman - Actor
Todd Solondz - Director
Todd Solondz - Screenplay
Technical Info
Original Release Date 1998
Catalog ID 7023 - D
UPC 00031398702337
Number of Discs 1
Running Time 139 minutes
Color Color
Original Language English
Available Subtitles English, French, Spanish
Available Audio Tracks English [CC], English
Aspect Ratio
Golden Globe (1999) Todd Solondz, Nominee, Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
ReviewSource New York Times
Review In Happiness, a much bigger film than his first [Welcome To The Dollhouse] and another murderous comedy of manners, Mr. Solondz gets even closer to the bone. His natural tendency to make audiences squirm leads him into material that wouldn't be mentioned in many other films; here, it's linked to the eating of ice cream sundaes. But Mr. Solondz doesn't seem to be straining for shock value when he turns the man in the sunny family portrait on the wall into the man who drugs his family's dessert. (His purpose: an assault on the son's young friend.) He fills Happiness with enough misery to make its most outrageous joke its title -- and with enough true, unexpected tenderness to warrant this view of the world.
Reviewer Janet Maslin
ReviewRating 0
ReviewSource Dallas Observer
Review Weaving together myriad interconnected plot lines with more than a dozen lives, this gifted writer-director [Todd Solondz] has fashioned a bleak, brilliant comedy about loneliness, lovelessness, and alienation -- a film that constantly upends our assumptions about what is heartbreaking, what is hilarious, and what is both. Here's a graveyard of shattered self-esteem, a lonely crowd of walking-and-talking wounded that provokes, by turns, laughter and shocked silence. For 135 minutes this moviemaker sends us wildly mixed signals about what it means to be human; about the proximity of tragedy and comedy; and about life in a society where no one in a roomful of office clerks can remember the name, or the face, of a former co-worker who's just committed suicide and where an apartment-house doorman can wind up chopped into little pieces in an upstairs tenant's freezer. Happiness is risky business indeed. Now 38, New Jersey native Solondz chooses not to satanize a pedophile, but rather to turn him this way and that in the light, looking at all of his facets. Solondz neither idealizes nor mocks a seemingly Cleaveresque household in New Jersey; instead, he examines it with pinpoint accuracy, layer by layer. In his disparate characters, he shows us rage inflamed by sadness, isolation governed by impotence. He shows the excitement in the face of a needy woman when a Russian cab driver takes up a guitar and sings to her "You Light Up My Life," of all things, in an accent as thick as borscht. Anything to find happiness. We don't know whether to laugh or cry, but the emotional jolt is powerful.
Reviewer Bill Gallo
ReviewRating 0
DVD, Widescreen, Dolby Surround Sound, Digitally Mastered, Spanish, English, French, Subtitled
Product Attributes
Actor Hoffman,Philip Seym
Label Trimark Home Entertainment
Music Format DVD
Video Format DVD
David Ansen, Newsweek Deeply disturbing and shockingly funny, one of the few indelible movies of the year!
Janet Maslin, The New York Times Subtly savage... Evilly funny!
Newsweek Magazine #1 film of the year!

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