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Happy Endings (R)

Release Date: July 15th, 2005 by Lions Gate Films.
The Cast: Lisa Kudrow, Steve Coogan, Jesse Bradford, Bobby Cannavale, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Ritter, Tom Arnold, Laura Dern
Directed by Don Roos.
BASIC PREMISE: Many different adults' lives connect in the city of Los Angeles.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: With an ensemble cast as multitalented as in this film, it is very difficult to be bored for even one single minute. Every actor/actress has their moment to shine, including John Ritter's son Jason as Otis who dates the sexy Jude (Gyllenhall). Jude eventually dates his father (Arnold), which is quite funny as it is creepy. Lisa Kudrow does have many scenes throughout the film as Mamie, who is chosen by Nicky (Bradford) to be in a documentary film about finding her lost son. Kudrow's acting is mediocre but her comic timing is very good as usual. Bobby Canavale is hilarious as Javier, a masseuse who befriends Mamie with his charming--and relaxing--ways. There have been other films this summer that have a similar plot of many people's lives gradually connecting. One such film that comes immediately to mind is Crash, which also takes place in Los Angeles. Interestingly, there are two car crashes in this film but it is much more light-hearted and playful than Crash. What makes this film really work is not just the energy of the cast, but the very solid, well-written script that includes some dry, witty dialogue. As William Hurt's character in The Big Chill once said, sometimes you just have to let art flow over you. However, in Happy Endings, there is also the inclusion of many captions that tell the fate and elaborate on the actions of the characters throughout the film. Although initially creative and original, the captions take the viewer away from the film and is, therefore, simply distracting. Nonetheless, the film is never boring and does include some surprisingly good singing from Gyllenhaal.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: There aren't any profound messages, but just an examination of many different love, honesty, commitment, sex, and friendship. Fortunately, the film does live up to its title in terms of the ending, although it is not as emotionally affecting as Crash is or other ensemble films such as Me and You and Everyone We Know. Also, The Big Chill tackles all of the above themes in a much more subtle, intelligent, and profound way.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: The explanation captions are very distracting and unnecessary. NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 2

THE BOTTOM LINE: An ensemble film with a great, energetic cast, witty dialogue, and a light-hearted plot that lacks insightful messages and includes many annoying explanation captions but yet it still manages to entertain.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)

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