Happiness is available on an unrated, widescreen (1.85:1) DVD from Trimark, featuring the trailer, bios for Adams, Baker, Boyle, Hoffman, Lovitz and Solondz, and a nominal "easter egg" feature: trailers for the Saul Williams film Slam and Larry Clark's Another Day In Paradise, and an identical "Lion's Gate Signature Series" edition DVD. It's also available in a full-screen VHS edition. 1998, 140 min.
|Happiness, a film at once hilariously sardonic and
profoundly unsettling, tells a series of interconnecting love stories
set in American suburbia. Award-winning film-maker Todd Solondz
explores the sorrows and desires of men and women - as they
desperately try to navigate through the uncharted and most intimate
aspects of their lives - with the same unremitting glance, and taste of
dark humour, that gave his portrait of adolescence in Welcome To
the Dollhouse such disturbing power.
The search for happiness connects lonely lives in this subversively funny film. Meet three sisters at the center of a struggle with the secret demons of middle class perfection. There's Joy (Jane Adams) who is rebounding from a breakup with her latest loser boyfriend (Jon Lovitz), Helen (Lara Flynn Boyle), a glamorous writer looking for drama in a relationship with a slovenly obscene phone caller (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and then there's Trish (Cynthia Stevenson), the housewife who appears to have it all, including a shrink husband (Dylan Baker) who has an unnatural obsession which he manages to keep secret from his family and friends.
If you missed Christine Vachon & David Edelstein's auto-job-ography Shooting To Kill: How an Independent Producer Blasts Through the Barriers To Make Movies That Matter (which, by the way, I recommend), here's the text referring to an alternate sequence in Happiness, in a chapter on special effects. It reveals the ultimate fate of Dylan Baker's character that's never shown in the finished version (and I have to agree - it's pretty unneccesary): "On another film, another character opens a package and gets blown up. We debated ways of doing it - from moronically inexpensive (cut from the character opening the box to someone next door doing dishes and hearing a BOOM! while the camera shakes) to the Schwarzeneggerian (blow up a whole house). We also thought about blowing up a miniature. In the end, we built a fake front door on the house, blew it off its hinges, and pumped out a lot of black smoke. It cost about two thousand dollars."
Cool, German VHS cover:
"It seems the things I've wanted in
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