Happy Endings is one of those films that makes you rethink being a DVD reviewer. I sat through this excursion into pretentious observations about the way the world is, and the way “average people” are, and thought, “Yeah, sure, this is a slice-of-life. I bet.” Oh, I don’t mean to say the characters’ lives are way too screwed up to be believable. Lord knows, under every ordinary average guy… or gal… there lurks a whole slew of skeletons banging their bony fists against the inside of the closet door. But the extent to which these screwed-up folks bang into one another like aimless bumper cars at a county fair makes one say, “Enough already.”
Lisa Kudrow heads a weak cast, despite name recognition and the merits I’m sure each of the performers possess. With other capable stars such as Laura Dern, Maggie Gyllenhall, Tom Arnold, and Jason Ritter attached, one would think acting is the least of the film’s worries. The problem with that? Everyone gets so caught up in the hipness of it all they come across with obnoxious self-indulgence smeared over their faces like the feces permanently plastered to the walls of my old college dorm’s public restroom. And it’s as if writer-director Don Roos wants to remove it from that wall, but he feels too intimidated to cross the ex-Phoebe Buffay and Mr. Roseanne Barr.
So instead, he humors them. Tells them they’re doing a fine job, and goes right along with it. Of course, Roos himself must claim some blame for this cinematic septic tank. After all, such snobbery does originate on the page, and the story — if you could call it that — wanders around in umpteen different directions under the guise of complexity. All the while, it accomplishes squat in its endeavors. It’s been a long time since a film has made me this miserable. If that was Happy Endings’ intention, it certainly succeeded.
When one hates a film as badly as I did this one, it becomes very difficult to say anything nice at all. However, the video transfer is sharp and clean, though a bit too bright in places. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation doesn’t add much to the film, as it isn’t the type which thrives on technical specifications. Overall, the quality is worthy of the format. Too bad there isn’t much to see.
You’ll do just as good with the basic stereo track as you will with the 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround. It’s not that the track fails to be expertly rendered. It’s just there isn’t enough going on. Still, both are balanced and flawless. About the only thing that needs to be just right for this film is dialogue, as a lot of yacking goes on, and the track succeeds in this venture.
As if the film itself is not punishment enough, Happy Endings comes in a special edition. Oh, boy. The director’s commentary also features input from the cinematographer and Kudrow. Nothing goes on of any note. The deleted scenes, outtakes, trailers, and making-of featurette, are all pretty much throwaways. I may be missing something, but believe me — you won’t be, so long as you stay far away.
I’ve never seen Roos’ other popular film The Opposite of Sex, so I can’t really say if you like the one, you’ll like the other. If I could, then seeing The Opposite of Sex would never end up on my list of things to do before I die. That aside, the A/V presentation is respectable. The bonus materials? Maybe. Depends on how much you like the film. If you manage to, that’s your own personal feeling, and I’m happy for you. But for me, the only happy ending here is when the last of the credits roll, the features are examined, and my obligation to this film is officially over for the rest of my life.