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Happy, Texas

4.5 out of 5 stars 139 customer reviews

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(Apr 11, 2000)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Popular stars Steve Zahn (FORCES OF NATURE, YOU'VE GOT MAIL, OUT OF SIGHT), Jeremy Northam (AN IDEAL HUSBAND, MIMIC), and William H. Macy (MYSTERY MEN, A CIVIL ACTION, FARGO) enliven a hilarious comedy where a case of mistaken identity leads to a beauty of a con game! When escaped convicts Harry Sawyer (Northam) and Wayne Wayne Wayne Jr. (Zahn) are pulled over in the town of Happy, Texas ... while driving a stolen Winnebago ... they think they are being arrested. Rather, they're immediately welcomed as the vehicle's owners: a gay couple who've come to orchestrate the "Little Miss Fresh-Squeezed Pre-Teen" beauty pageant! Not ones to let a good con pass them by, the pair don't hesitate to adopt flamboyant new personalities ... and quickly meet with outrageously unpredictable consequences! With a great cast of stars playing an unusually offbeat collection of characters -- you'll be more than happy you picked up this laugh-out-loud comedy treat!


Three prisoners on a chain gang find themselves on the loose when their prison van overturns to avoid hitting an armadillo. Two of them--Jeremy Northam (An Ideal Husband, The Winslow Boy) and Steve Zahn (Out of Sight, That Thing You Do!)--steal an RV that turns out to belong to two junior-beauty-pageant promoters on their way to organize a pageant in Happy, Texas. When Northam and Zahn find themselves stuck in Happy, their only option is to follow through with their masquerade and put on the pageant. Unfortunately, the promoters are known to be gay, which complicates matters when both men find themselves attracted to local women--Illeana Douglas (Grace of My Heart, Cape Fear) and Ally Walker (While You Were Sleeping, TV's Profiler). The cast is uniformly entertaining, but it's William H. Macy (Fargo, Pleasantville) who really steals the show as the town sheriff with a secret of his own. Happy, Texas was an audience favorite at the Sundance Film Festival but didn't do as well in wide release, probably because viewers expected a nonstop farce. But though the movie is a comedy, and a very funny one, its humor springs more from nuances of character than broad wackiness. The situations are a little predictable, but the performers--especially Macy--give it zest and genuine feeling. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

  • Deleted Footage With Director's Commentary
  • Making-Of Featurette
  • Interviews With the Director and Writer
  • Music Video & Making Of Music Video

Product Details

  • Actors: Jeremy Northam, Steve Zahn, William H. Macy, Ally Walker, Illeana Douglas
  • Directors: Mark Illsley
  • Writers: Mark Illsley, Ed Stone, Phil Reeves
  • Producers: Mark Illsley, Ed Stone, Glenn S. Gainor, Jason Clark
  • Format: Anamorphic, Collector's Edition, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Miramax
  • DVD Release Date: April 11, 2000
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305800944
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,612 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Happy, Texas" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
What a delightful movie. I heard about this when it was released at the theatre and I was expecting something quirky and zany. It is testament to the direction of Illsley and to the great acting that the story is really brought to life.
A simple story: prison breakout, the fugitives are mistaken for gay children's pageant organisers, they plan a bank robbery but are changed by the charm of the inhabitants of Happy, Texas.
This is real laugh out loud stuff: Steve Zahn trying to teach kids to dance (based on an MTv video), Jeremy Northam (in a character that is a million miles from An Ideal Husband) as the subject of the local sherrif's affections (played by an always brilliant William H Macy), the theft of the RV (which gets the main characters into the fix in the first place) and the car chase (with a tow truck).
The DVD allows you to see the scenes Illsley deleted and listen to his reasoning. It is easy to see just from this how much effort went into story and character development. It has certainly paid off. These are people you meet for 98 minutes but they are formed well enough for you want to meet them in real life.
I highly recommend watching this movie and I guarantee you will get one of the best renditions of Bjork's "Its so quiet" you are likely to see.
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Format: DVD
Happy Texas is one of the greatest comedies you've probably never heard of. Shot in just 29 days on a shoestring budget, this film's acting, directing, script and comedic timing are so clever and incisive that it has attracted an almost cult following, especially among Steve Zahn fans.

There are plots within plots that all pull together in the end to make a perfect film. Starting with escaped convicts (Wayne Wayne Wayne played by Steve Zahn and Harry Sawyer played by Jeremy Northam) who have to hide and steal an RV belonging to two gay pageant designers, to discovering the gay lifestyle in a small Texas community (Happy), to finding love in the arms of a doe-eyed banker (Ally Walker ...sorry for the cliche, but she really does have doe-eyes), this movie hits on all aspects of life and puts a hilarious spin on them.

The greatest things about this film were Steve Zahn's acting while trying to teach pre-teen girls how to dance, and William H. Macy's stunning performance as Happy's town sheriff who comes out of the closet.

Always sharp, incredibly funny, superbly paced, this movie's small budget belies its excellent acting and directing.

Few films will tickle your funny bone as perfectly as HAPPY TEXAS. Watch it. Buy it. Live it!
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By A Customer on July 17, 2000
Format: DVD
I 'd passed this movie on the shelves of movie rental stores for some time now and I just want to kick myself for not renting it sooner. After I saw this movie, I just had to have it for my movie collection. The box cover isn't a natural "attention grabber", but don't underestimate this movie's quality because of that. Happy Texas packs tons of laughs. This movie was well put together and the story line is definitely unique. Steve Zahn is one hilarious character. The scene where he tries to teach a group of young girls how to dance for a local children's pageant makes Happy Texas worth buying in itself. There's plenty more to this gutbusting comedy, but I'll let you judge for yourself. I think you'll find this one handsdown, 'No Contest'. And remember...." the light is green!" Check this one out!
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Format: DVD
HAPPY, TEXAS is a delightful film, earnestly and honestly directed by Mark Illsley and acted with professional finesse by a talented cast.

Jeremy Northam, who usually plays stuff-shirt gents (Mimic, Gosford Park) stars as Harry Sawyer, and Steve Zahn, who is proving to be a marvelous comic actor, plays Wayne Wayne Jr., two small time cons who escape from a chain gang. They end up stealing an RV which is owned by two gay pageant directors, who are delighted to have it stolen. They head off for an island getaway, waiting to report the stolen RV after the insurance rates go up. The boys end up in Happy, Texas, where they are greeted by the townspeople who hope that their expertise will help them to the state finals. Zahn is shocked when he discovers the contestants are little 5 year old girls. Northam and Zahn go along with the ruse so they can rob the local bank. But, wait...Northam finds himself falling for the bank's manager, played joyously by Ally Walker. Zahn meanwhile is falling for the pageant's local director, Ileana Douglas. Next thing you know, Zahn is making outfits for the girls, and Northam doesn't want to rob the bank anymore. And if this weren't enough, the town's sheriff, played to the hilt by William H. Macy, comes out of the closet and admits his attraction to Northam. They go out on a date at a Dallas gay bar, where they dance their little feet off.

What distinugishes this movie, however, is the direction that takes a humanistic, straightforward approach. When Northam rejects Macy later, it's a poignant and touching scene. Macy is brilliant in this role, and it is his honest performance that keeps his feelings for Northam real and honest, and not slapstick or comic. Throw in Ron Perlman in a small supporting role, and you have a movie of rare honesty and emotion.

A hit at the Sundance Festival, it should've done better in release, but at least you can get it on DVD and relish in its

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