Friday, April 10, 2009

Siskel & Ebert on ‘Happiness’

Gene and Roger had good things to say about Todd Solondz’s “Happiness.”

I thought the movie was despicable... an act of contempt towards its characters as well as its audience.

“Happiness” didn’t tell the truth about human beings, and didn’t seem interested in doing so. I can’t name a movie that I dislike more.

21 comments:

maria said...

i did love welcome to the dollhouse. you?

Bay Radical said...

I didn't see Happiness because I had pretty much the same reaction to Welcome to the Dollhouse that you're describing here, and I assumed it would be more of the same. Welcome to the Dollhouse did seem to touch on some Truths about Humanity or whatnot, and then just veered in this awful, cynical, misanthropy that seemed pointlessly mean.

Undercover Black Man said...

i did love welcome to the dollhouse. you?

I never watched it start-to-finish. But what I saw I didn't like. For the same reasons. Filled with contempt towards human beings... a self-satisfied misanthropy.

Wanda said...

I've never seen or heard of this movie, but I will try to find it because I did love Welcome To The Dollhouse. I was like 13 when it came out. It was pretty popular with my sisters and my friends. I still have my VHS copy of it :)

Susie said...

All of his movies have that same flavor to them.

I feel horrible after I watch one - like I just watched someone put a pin through a butterfly and pull it's wings off.

Makes me morbidly curious about his inner life.

Darkman said...

Hello David--First time commenter, long time reader. Funny you should post this today. A few days ago I listed this as one of my five most hated movies. I looked up Gene and Roger's review and was surprised that it made Roger's top 10 of the year (3 or 4 I think). Couldn't agree with you more about this. Keep up the good work!

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Welcome to my spot, Darkman. I appreciate the comment.

Undercover Black Man said...

Makes me morbidly curious about his inner life.

Safe to assume he's miserable, Suze. Perhaps pathologically so.

that dude said...

Liked HAPPINESS and WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE. Does that make me a bad person?

lawegohard said...

My sis cause this "Visual Masturbation". Very self-serving filmmaking.

Andrew said...

I guess it's safe to say you won't be seeing this film's sequel that's coming out later this year. I was checking out the sequel's IMDB page, and he appears to have recast every single character with actors who aren't even the least bit similar (i.e. Michael K. Williams taking over for Philip Seymour Hoffman).

Undercover Black Man said...

Sequel? Fuck else does he have to say on the subject? People suck. Message received.

Kellybelle said...

I was in that movie!LOL! Blink and you'll miss the pivotal role of Radical Picketer.

Todd was actually pretty cool. We got into an interesting discussion about African-American dialects. He seems like a kind and gentle soul. With a serious dark side.

Undercover Black Man said...

I was in that movie!LOL!

Oh wow, Kellybelle. That's very cool.

cribbster said...

I don't know. I enjoyed many things about the movie. I mean, all those characters are friggin' STRUGGLING with an almost pathological inability to find satisfaction in their lives. The child molester compensates by maintaining a near-perfect home life, including a wife and family. Philip Seymour Hoffman is a chronic masturbator. I don't remember the other characters, but I remember empathizing with them a good deal. They were sad. And I didn't take it so much as a commentary on people but these particular people -- the type of person who doesn't find happiness easily. I think Solondz had a lot of compassion for them however disgusting a number of them were. I mean, he made a movie about them. That's gotta say something.

Undercover Black Man said...

I mean, he made a movie about them. That's gotta say something.

He made a movie about them in order to mock them, and to laugh at other people's emotional pain.

Anonymous said...

I hated the sequence with the African American teacher and the white student. But the part with the little white suburban boy who at first seems sweet but gradually reveals himself to be a monster, bullying his illegal immigrant nanny, was interestingly allegorical.

I thought: The boy is America. Brilliant.

Was Happiness the film with Seymour Philip Hoffman as a creep, and Ben Gazzara as an aging crep in Florida?

I also loved Welcome to the Dollhouse.

Brian said...

Sorry, but I thought this movie was hilarious.

Dark Moon said...

I hated happiness...it also disgusted me on a visceral level in the same manner as American Beauty.

Russell said...

I understand your contempt for this film. I had really mixed feelings about it until the end where the dog licks up the cum and then licks the woman's mouth. At that moment, any pretension of seriously commenting on the human condition went up in smoke. Interestingly, I felt very similarly about BOOGIE NIGHTS (contempt for the characters etc.) on my first viewing. Then I realized every time I caught part of it on cable I would watch the rest of the movie even as I railed against it. I started to realize I must like something about it. I still think the contempt for the characters is a valid criticism of BN but so many other things raise it's artistic game that I can forgive it. So it eventually took a long strange journey to becoming on of my favorite movies. Somehow I don't see a similar path for HAPPINESS.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Funny, I never felt that "Boogie Knights" held its own characters in contempt. Matter fact, I think P.T. Anderson had too benign a view of those characters.

My problem with that flick had everything to do with Anderson being too interested in the concept of the randomness of events... and not interested enough in the concept of people's actions generating dramatic consequences.