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Happiness

3.9 out of 5 stars 352 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The search for happiness connects lonely lives in this subversively funny film from Todd Solondz, director of Welcome To The Dollhouse. Meet three sisters at the center of a struggle with the secret demons of middle class perfection. Challenge your sympathies and see the movie that made over 50 top ten lists of 1998.

Special Features

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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.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: February 19, 2004
  • Run Time: 134 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (352 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000092T3F
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,498 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Happiness" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
INCREDIBLE FILM!!! 2 stars only because this is a HORRIBLE render! Its a little square on the screen, not full screen, not widescreen, just horribly rendered for this edition. So far no good edition exists of this excellent, amazing film. So 2 stars ONLY for this version/release. 5 stars or more easily for the film and its content!
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Far too often moviegoers are subjected to a blatant exaggeration of raw violence, murder, rape, sex, nudity, racism, and a myriad of criminal activities and human blight. Moviegoers love it when a false hero blows up a car full of bad people and their heads go flying everywhere.
Yet, these same folks watch an original movie such as Happiness and they are all of a sudden sickened by the roles, scenes, and subject matter. I get it. Really, I do. Pedophilia is not a subject anyone should be comfortable about. It’s a hideous and disgusting condition, but it undoubtedly exists in our society.

Please understand, in no way, am I advocating pedophilia by liking this movie. I too was grossed out and repulsed by the subject matter. However, unlike most movies, Happiness is not glorifying anything here. It is simply telling you an original story of authentic characters going through the same everyday conditions we all struggle through whether we like it or not. All anyone has to do these days is to turn on the local news channel to discover how messed up our world truly is. What you see on the news is what you’re seeing in Happiness- so don’t be surprised and disgusted when see reality for what it is.

And movies should be an escape from all that. That is why I’m only giving Happiness 4 stars. It is not an escape- it is a shameless reminder of how insane life can be, how dysfunctional our families are, and how even the best relationships have their monsters in the closet. However, this movie, for all its dark and demented scenes shares some fleeting moments of hilarity! Yes, it is funny. That is, if you have an open mind.

And there it is- if you have an open mind, you’ll like or love this film. If you don’t, you’ll trash this film and think it’s stupid. Just remember- when you watch that next film and you’re not turned off by all the violence and sexual content, then you should be ashamed and not so judgmental.
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