ⓘ Happy Endings (film)


ⓘ Happy Endings (film)

Happy Endings is a 2005 American dramedy film written and directed by Don Roos and starring Tom Arnold, Jesse Bradford, Bobby Cannavale, Steve Coogan, Laura Dern, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lisa Kudrow and Jason Ritter.

The expression "happy ending" is a colloquial term for offering sexual release to a client at the end of a massage.


1. Plot

The film follows a diverse group of mostly middle-class Los Angelenos through the emotional ups and downs in their flawed yet very human lives, each loosely connected to each other through a restaurant.

In the first story, Mamie reluctantly agrees to work with a would-be young filmmaker in order to locate the now grown son she secretly gave up for adoption after becoming pregnant from her stepbrother Charley – who is later revealed to be gay – 19 years earlier.

In the second story arc, her stepbrother, and his domestic partner, Gil, are deciding whether or not to confront their friends, a lesbian couple, regarding the paternity of their son.

And in the third, a young man, Otis, is involved with a band and trying to keep his father, Frank, from learning that he is gay, while also dealing with the seemingly gold-digging woman, Jude, who inserts herself into their lives.


2. Production

Director Don Roos wrote the part of Mamie expressly for Lisa Kudrow after directing her in his earlier film, The Opposite of Sex, which he also wrote. Originally, the story concerned three sisters. Maggie Gyllenhaal was not the first choice to play Jude. Gwyneth Paltrow was originally slated to play the part. Gyllenhaal does her own singing in the film. Ray Liotta turned down the role of Frank McKee.

It took 18 months to find financial backing for the production.


3.1. Reception Critical response

Happy Endings received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 54% rating from 107 critics. On Metacritic, it score 57 out of 100 from 31 critics.

Roger Ebert noted that "Maggie Gyllenhaal steals the show", and other "characters not so engaging" and "the films problem is that we dont much like most of the characters, or care about them". But he still gave the film 2.5 out 4 stars. Amber Wilkinson from eyeforfilm.co.uk notes on 22 January 2005 that "short and snappy seem to be words long forgotten by filmmakers" and "the cast is strong and some of the lines - particularly the title cards, which pop up to offer back stories - are fun, but there is a lack of heart to the movie". Dustin Putman from filmfile.com on 16 July 2005 noted "it isnt really adding up to a whole lot" and "the force of the splendid performances take hold and, along with Roos easeful, non-showy cinematic handle, buoy the film above its more wobbly moments of indifference".

Director Don Roos has been noted for his depiction of sexual fluidity, which features in Happy Endings as well as other Roos films such as The Opposite of Sex.


3.2. Reception Accolades

The 2005 Sundance Film Festival opened with this film.

Happy Endings received nominations for:

  • for "Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical" – Tom Arnold
  • 2005 Satellite Awards
  • for "Outstanding Screenplay, Original" – Don Roos
  • for "Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical" – Steve Coogan
  • for "Outstanding Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical"
  • 2006 Independent Spirit Award for "Best Supporting Female" – Maggie Gyllenhaal
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