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July 19, 2005

Happy Endings

Happyendingsposter Potent social satire mixes with multiple characters incapable of telling the truth — especially to themselves — in writer/director Don Roos' enjoyable comedy of deception and dysfunction. Like a brief interpretation on Raymond Carver's "Short Cuts," Roos establishes odd pairings of characters whose intentions instigate unexpected reactions. Lisa Kudrow plays Mamie, a family-planning counselor, whose teenaged sexual liaison with her now gay step brother Charley (Steve Coogan) resulted in a baby that she put up for adoption. Tom Arnold is Frank, a wealthy lonely widower who falls for his gay son's (Jason Ritter) ostensible girlfriend Jude (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Jude has her sights set on Frank's bank account when she isn't singing with Frank's son's band. Amateur filmmaker Nicky (Jesse Bradford) attempts to blackmail Mamie with information about her son while her Mexican emigrant boyfriend Javier (Bobby Cannavale) becomes the subject of Nicky's topical student film. The ensemble performances are terrific in this witty comic burlesque.   

Rated R. 128 mins. (B) (Three Stars)

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