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Happy Birthday (2002)

 Michelle E. Michael, John Frazier   Benjamin Patrick , Yen Tan  |  Unrated |  DVD
2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors:  Michelle E. Michael, John Frazier   Benjamin Patrick
  • Directors: Yen Tan
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: TLA Releasing
  • DVD Release Date: July 13, 2002
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000B1A2X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,207 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Happy Birthday" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

The debut feature of Malaysian-born director Yen Tan, Happy Birthday is a drama whose five protagonists who share both the same birthday and similar demons that haunt their queer identity. There is Ron, a minister who wholeheartedly preaches the virtues of switching from gay to straight, but has a healthy appetite for gay porn; Tracy, a Taiwanese-born woman who is forced to conceal her lesbianism when she visits her conservative mother; Jim, a gay, overweight telemarketer who muffles his deep melancholy and low self-esteem with his voracious pitches for the weight loss program he is selling; Javed, a Pakistani man living in the U.S. with his American lover -- a gay porn actor -- who faces being deported back home to his estranged Islamic family; and Kelly, a young woman grappling with both her recent breakup with her girlfriend and her longlasting crush on her roommate. As their birthday nears, none of the characters approach it with anything that exactly resembles enthusiasm. Happy Birthday was screened at the 2002 Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

Special Features:
  • Director Commentary
  • Behind The Birthday - Featurette
  • TLA Releasing Trailers

Customer Reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars
2.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelming May 29, 2004
I had seen previews for Happy Birthday on a few other gay films I had bought off Amazon, and was excited to come across it at the local video rental store. However, any excitement wore off quickly as the film progressed. The complete story line is told on the back of the DVD... which sounds interesting until you realize that nothing else happens to any of the characters in the movie. Every character has one semi-predictable main issue in their life that slowly unfolds as scenes cut from scene to scene, but other than that you're just left with a lot of cheap looking black and white home movie type footage of bad actors sometimes appearing to be reading their lines. Even the sound is poorly done... characters fade in and out, echo like a home video would, and there is a lot of ambient noise (air conditioner, etc.).
Definitely quite a feat for a first time full length movie for the producer, but this should have been work for his portfolio, not for general release. The concept is awesome but it isn't well executed mainly because the `single issue' main characters come across as stereotypical (how many gay pornstar characters do we really need in movies?) and there are simply too many to keep up with. I look forward to what is coming next from Yen Tan but wouldn't recommend Happy Birthday.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It doesn't work July 17, 2007
By Davalon
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Like other reviewers, I thought this was going to be a unique, fresh indie film with gay themes. From the first moment of video, bad lighting, bad sound, questionable acting, I thought: "What?!"

I fell asleep in this "film" twice and was only awoken because a phone goes off several times.

I try hard to support indie film, but people who do these projects have got to understand: 1) You don't just point and shoot; 2) the sound MUST be stellar; 3) You don't use flourescent room lighting; 4) if someone is in another room and you are shooting through an open door looking upon that room, you mike it from where the actors are standing, not from where the camera is; 5) if actors are going to "ad lib" then make sure it is worth listening to; and... well, you get the idea.

Maybe it looked good on paper, but it didn't work for me.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars CRAPPY BIRTHDAY! January 19, 2004
It's true! You can't judge a book by it's cover. The cover of this "film" looked interesting with accolades from multiple gay and lesbian film festivals.
First of all, this is not a film. It's a video (even though it says it's a film all over the cover). And it's shot entirely in black and white (to look artsy). NOTE: THERE WAS NO FILM STOCK USED IN THE PRODUCTION OF THIS VIDEO!
Secondly, to be honest, I've seen better acting in .. than in this movie. I expected it to be one at times by the way it's formatted, but I don't even get that pleasure. It says it's well-acted on the cover. Don't make me laugh!
The last thing I'd like to mention is that the subject matter tried too hard to be deeply dramatic, but left me feeling empty. Not draining... ...just empty like I invested my life savings to purchase a happy meal. Additionally, the situations potrayed in this movie seem a little outdated (unless you're in the midwest).
I would accept this film if it were a high school project, but it's not. :o( I gave it one star to give Yen Tan credit for trying. Don't waste your money on this DVD! There are plenty more GLBT indie films out there that are more worth your while. Go watch the latest gay show on Showtime. You'll get more out of it than this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars wow a true film April 23, 2004
By A Customer
this movie is one the only true to life look at people in the gay society. showing that they have more problems than just bieng gay yen tan is a graet and pasionate film maker and the actors were fantastic.
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