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Happiness


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Product Details

  • Actors: Jane Adams, Jon Lovitz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dylan Baker, Lara Flynn Boyle
  • Directors: Todd Solondz
  • Writers: Todd Solondz
  • Producers: Christine Vachon, David Linde, James Schamus, Pamela Koffler, Ted Hope
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Letterboxed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: June 3, 2003
  • Run Time: 134 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (318 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000092T3F
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,913 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Happiness" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Jane Adams, Dylan Baker. From the director of Welcome to the Dollhouse comes this black comedy about a sympathetic pedophile and the other troubled members of his family. 1998/color/139 min/NR.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

122 of 128 people found the following review helpful By M. Burns on October 26, 2004
Format: DVD
There have been few times that I've sat for more than two hours, intently watching a film, screaming "I hate this movie!" as the credits begin to roll, but then realize that I don't hate it at all. In fact, I don't know if that has ever happened before, but last night, after the final, revolting line of Todd Solondz's 1998 shocker Happiness, I did just that, and probably because I couldn't bring myself to admit I liked it. It's a movie that deals with wildly perverse subject matter, contains not a truly likeable character in the whole bunch, and doesn't even bother to show the consequences of the horrible actions for any of its transgressors. If there is a poster-child movie for complete and total amorality, Happiness is the one. But I liked it, and that scares me.

Joy (Jane Adams) has absolutely nothing in common with her name; her sister Helen (Lara Flynn Boyle) is a sultry, narcissistic author who wants the experience of being raped to make her writing authentic; other sister Trish (Cynthia Stevenson) is married to Dr. Bill Maplewood (Dylan Baker) and has three kids. Dr. Bill is a pedophile who pleasures himself to teen magazines in the backseat of his car and has dreams of murdering strangers in a park; Dr. Bill's strangest patient, Allen (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), makes obscene phone calls and has an inventive way of pasting postcards to the wall; Allen's neighbor, Kristina (Camryn Manheim), is in love with him but has her own disgusting little story to hide. Nearly every character has a dark side, the only truly 'good' one (Joy) seems to get everything wrong, and the one romance that blooms during the movie has a twinge of wrongness to it.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By John Dolan on September 24, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Happiness tells the terrible truth about our blank lives. No guns, no catchphrases, no handy resolution. This is us. Reviewers who claim that it's too negative should try a simple experiment: get out your addressbook and go through ten randomly-chosen names. Then ask yourself whether Happiness is really an exaggeration of the terrible loneliness of cubicle-life in the American middle class.
Hate this film if you like, but at least tell the truth about why you hate it: because it shows the simple, bland, unbearable truth.
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42 of 50 people found the following review helpful By "dementia25" on June 2, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Definitely one of the best movies of the decade, and one of the best independent films of all time. I saw this movie in the theater because i was already of fan of the director, Todd Solondz, after seeing and loving his first film, Welcome to the Dollhouse. This film goes where no film has dared even think about going in the past, completely redefing the term "black comedy". The movie intertwines several loosely related plotlines(a la Pulp Fiction), all involving outwardly banal suburban characters whose private lives are actually teeming with depravity and tragedy, ineptitude and self-loathing. The film is at its most audacious when following the trials and tribulations of an average suburban psychologist who also just happens to be a homosexual pedophile. In this particular storyline, Solondz takes this repellent figure, this Grendel of modern society, and exposes his life in such tragically comic and crushingly depressing tones as to make you reevaluate your initial preconceived notions of the John Wayne Gaycie's of the world. This film has the singular distinction of containing the only scene in which i felt the urge to laugh, vomit, and cry simultaneously. If you are a prude or a moralizing, close-minded fundamentalist of one type or another, you will probably find this movie "filthy" and "morally bankrupt". If so, then you, of course, are the type of person who needs to see this movie most of all. Anyone else with an open mind and a taste for shocking, thought provoking media of any kind will enjoy this unsentimental look at the by-products of America's Suburban Utopia.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David Rolfe on December 29, 1999
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This film is dark, disturbing, and filled with flashes of black, absurd humor. The principle characters are ordinary middle class people who happen to be haunted by their very personal demons. I ask myself why I loved this film, and why I didn't simply run screaming in disgust. My answer is that I could relate to these characters; that their dilemmas rang true to me, and I cared about their fates. If you're a person with a sunny disposition and not inclined towards introspection, you'll find no use for this film, and you'll wonder why anyone would bother to make it. But if you're of a darker nature, struggling to stay on track and do right in a world that appears to be amoral and inappropriately happy, then consider spending an hour or two with Todd Solondz and his characters.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Matthew G. Sherwin HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 16, 2007
Format: DVD
Happiness is one of those rare films that takes a look at lives that are so often "hidden" from public view. It seems that just about everyone in this movie has serious personal problems; and the film gives us a frank and often brutally honest view of troubled lives.

There are several main characters in the film whose lives all intertwine to some degree. There's Mona and Lenny Jordan (Louise Lasser and Ben Gazzara) whose marriage is coming apart after 40 years of togetherness; and we see their three daughters Trish Maplewood, Joy Jordan and Helen Jordan (Cynthia Stevenson, Jane Adams and Lara Flynn Boyle, respectively). Trish has no idea that her husband Bill Maplewood (Dylan Baker) likes little boys way too much as he supports his family by being, of all things, a psychiatrist.

In addition, we also meet Allan (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Allan is frustrated for lack of a woman in his life so he makes lewd crank phone calls to women. We also meet the Maplewood's two sons, Billy and Timmy. Look for some particularly fine acting from Rufus Read who plays Billy Maplewood.

As the film progresses, we see all of these people trying to find happiness. Although they try to make emotional connections with other people they fail. Allan can't do any better than a woman with a rather grisly little secret; and Mona cracks up when Lenny, her husband of forty years, leaves her for "no one" and the one time we see Lenny with another woman he complains that he feels "nothing." Of course, trouble looms over the Maplewood household as Bill Maplewood tries desperately to hide his pedophilia from his family. It doesn't help that the love life has faded out of the Maplewood marriage.
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