A review of “Happy Endings” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: R for language and nudity

Run Time: 2 hours, 8 minutes

 

 

Don Roos is known for crafting worlds of dysfunction (The Opposite of Sex) and Happy Endings doesn’t disappoint.

A tag-team of talent peppers the Los Angeles landscape of this Altman-esque ode to unhappiness and bad choices.  Lisa Kudrow is up front and center as Mamie, an adolescent counselor with a closetful of skeletons.  Mamie carries the baggage of her own teen pregnancy, courtesy of a fling with step-brother Charley (Steve Coogan) who is contentedly gay and ensconced in a long-term relationship.

When budding filmmaker Nicky (Jesse Bradford) comes calling to suggest a documentary on a tearful reunion with Mamie’s secret lost child one can only assume blackmail.  Leading to a series of semi-comic mishaps that segues into sexual friction between the mismatched pair.

On the other side of town a bohemian opportunist named Jude (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is having her way with gay bandmate Otis (Jason Ritter).  Once the deal is sealed Jude sets her sights on Otis’ wealthy dad Frank (Tom Arnold), who falls for her con hook, line and sinker.

And so on and so forth.  Endings meanders through a passel of lives, weaving tales and offering potential fixes where none are apparent.  Roos utilizes surplus characterization in the form of sidebar text that dictates past, present and future with tongue-in-cheek moxie.

Critical analysis of the walking wounded has a worn-in sameness quality to it but Endings is nonetheless a satisfying dramedy with an artery blocked heart.