Review of Happiness

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Year: 1998 - Runtime: 134 - Director: Todd Solondz - Writer(s): Tod Solondz
Country: United States - Language: English - Parental Guide: NR - Color: Color

Happiness DVD CoverRating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆


Unlike many cult films that have that status because they’re just flat-out terrible, Happiness is legitimately engrossing. It touches on a slew of untouchable topics, including childhood rape, empty sex, suicide, and just about any other topic that could disturb and shock in a meaningful way. The success of Happiness comes from how director Todd Solondz collects these ideas into a cohesive and intriguing plot line, without it coming across as shocking for the sake of shock.

Reason to Watch

Happiness has a few key scenes that take it from a good movie to an existential borderline-life changing film. One in particular comes to mind that is so outrageous and yet so touching, it deserves a watch just for it.


The film tries something new. It balances the offensive with the message so well, a position many films have failed at. The content of the film puts it in cult status be default, but the amount of substantial interest her is actually quite riveting. All the actors seem believable in these offensive scenarios, giving them a grim reality that is rarely touched upon in film.

Most Memorable Quote(s)
  • Helen Jordan: Y’know, people are always putting New Jersey down. None of my friends can believe I live here. But that’s because they don’t get it: I’m living in a state of irony. 
  • Trish: How come no matter how much you treat me like shit, I can’t help loving you even more? 
  • Helen Jordan: If only I had been raped as a child! *Then* I would know authenticity! 
What You Need to Get Through This Movie

You need to hide your depressants, lock them up, throw away the key. Find a place where you can be blissfully happy to counter the overbearing weight of sadness you’ll probably feel after completing this film.

  • noted as one of the 25 most dangerous films by Premiere
Educational Content

Calling girls on the phone for sexual pleasure can get you in trouble. Raping your own son is tacky.

Justification for Rating

Unlike many films that are noted for their awfulness, Happiness manages to do a lot of what many cult films fail to capture. the embodied spirit of the sad and depraved has never been held in a more intriguing light. It’s brilliantly paced and is an exercise in open-mindedness and understanding.



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