Happiness (Drama/Comedy) 1998 [Movie/Review]


Year: 1998
Genre: Drama/Comedy
Director: Todd Solondz
Original Title: –
Source: DVD (Entertainment In Video)

 I wake up happy, feeling good…
but then I get very depressed,
because I’m living in reality.


A woman breaks up with her boyfriend, he thinks it’s because he’s fat. A man is unable to tell her next door neighbor he finds her sexually attractive. An old couple wants to split up, but they don’t want to get a divorce. A therapist masturbates to teen magazines. An 11 year old kid is insecure about the fact that he hasn’t cum yet. Office workers try to recall the face of a coworker who recently died. A woman is sure she has everything she could ever want. The lives of these individuals intertwine as they go about their lives in their own unique ways, engaging in acts society as a whole might find disturbing in a desperate search for human connection.

You think I don’t appreciate art?
You think I don’t understand fashion?
You think I’m not hip?
You think I’m pathetic? A nerd?
A lard-ass fat-so? You think I’m shit?
Well, you’re wrong,
’cause i’m champagne, and you’re shit.
Until the day you die,
you, not me, will always be shit.


I think this is probably the ultimate drama/comedy for me, and I have seen it about a million time (I don’t know what that says about me). It’s both funny, uncomfortable and sad. At its core I would say the movie is about loneliness, and how we all are alone even when we are in a relationship.

This movie is filled with for me favorite actors … Philip Seymour Hoffman is (as always) fantastic in his role as a sex obsessed, anti-social loner.  Jane Adams, one of my favorite actresses play her role as a sad looking-desperatly-for-love English for immigrants teacher. The deeply underrated Jon Lovitz is unfortunately not in the movie for long, but is as always great.

MILD SPOILER: Dylan Baker stands for most of the uncomfortableness in the movie, playing the role as a creepy pedophile, putting sleeping pills in peoples food and being absolutely weird and inappropriate with his son. One of the last scenes with the father and his son talking have to me one of the most heart-wrenching every to have been put on film.

I know who you are and you are nothing.
You think you are fucking something,
but you are fucking nothing. You are empty.
You are a zero. You are a black hole, and I’m gonna
fuck you so bad you’ll be coming out of your ears.


It was filmed in both New Jersey and Boca Raton, Florida, USA.

Philip Seymour Hoffman based his character (Allen) of Ralph Reed; the founder of the Christian Coalition, and a Republican politician. During a run in with Ralph, he told Philip that his favorite movie was Happiness. Little did Ralph know, he was Allen.

The film was highly controversial for its heavy sexual themes, particularly its portrayal of pedophilia. The Sundance Film Festival refused to accept the film, alleging it to be too disagreeable. October Films was the initial distributor for the film, and even helped finance it. However, October Films’ owner Seagram refused to release the movie and dropped it from the company. Good Machine ended up releasing the movie on their own, creating a new distribution arm in the process.

That wasn’t easy. It’s hard to sit in your boxers and jerk off in front of people for three hours. I was pretty heavy, and I was afraid that people would laugh at me. Todd said they might laugh, but they won’t laugh at you. He saw what we were working for, which was the pathos of the moment. Sometimes, acting is a really private thing that you do for the world.

– Hoffman on his role in Happiness (1998)


I watched this on a very basic UK DVD from Entertainment In Video. As far as I can find out, this one have no blu-ray release anywhere, which is totally unacceptable. Criterion should be right one it!

  • Extras: Theatrical trailer & 2 TV spots
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Picture Format: Non-Anamorphic
  • TV System: PAL
  • Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
  • Case type: Keep Case

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Joe: What do you think would happen if I got him a professional… you know… 
Bill: A professional? 
Joe: Hooker. You know, the kind that can teach things… first-timers, you know… break him in. 
Bill: But Joe, he’s 11. 
Joe: You’re right, you’re right. It’s too late.



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