ANOTHER HAPPY DAY
Unpleasant Family Reunion
Release Date: November 18, 2011
Starring: Ellen Barkin, Ellen Burstyn, Demi Moore, Thomas Haden Church, Kate Bosworth, Ezra Miller, George Kennedy, Daniel Yelsky, Siobhan Fallon, Diana Scarwid, Jeffrey DeMunn, Michael Nardelli, Lola Kirke
Runtime: 119 minutes
Distributor: Phase 4 Films
Director: Sam Levinson
Writer: Sam Levinson
Address Comments To:Berry Meyerowitz, CEO/President, Phase 4 Films
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In the story, Ellen Barkin plays Lynn, a moody, sensitive remarried woman. Lynn has a damaged college-age daughter in recovery from cutting herself, an acerbic teenage son hooked on prescription medications, a younger son who’s slightly autistic, and an older estranged son about to get married. The older son and daughter come from her first marriage. She raised the daughter but not the elder son.
Lynn travels to her mother’s house with her two younger sons, Elliot and Ben, to attend the older son, Dylan’s, wedding. Lynn hopes for a joyful reunion, but she’s not anxious to see her first husband, Paul, and his opinionated wife, Patty. She’s also anxious about whether her troubled daughter, Alice, will show up.
Of course, after they arrive, Lynn’s hopes are slowly dashed. Her aloof, disdainful mother and ailing, distant, senile father don’t help matters. Neither does her son, Elliot, who continually lobs verbal grenades at his mother and her relatives while secretly getting high on some of his grandfather’s mood-altering medication. Making matters worse, her ex-husband, Paul, tries to repair things with their daughter, Alice, but he keeps saying all the wrong things. Finally, Lynn’s two sisters are rather mean and given to mockery of other people, especially Lynn’s two sons by her second husband.
Some deft dialogue and terrific acting by both veterans and newcomers in ANOTHER HAPPY DAY cannot hide the fact that this rather depressing movie’s filled with abundant crude language. Though the troubled daughter is a sympathetic character, as is the mother sometimes, the grandmother’s frequent condescension and neglect toward her daughter Lynn’s feelings are annoying. So is the cynical, drug-addled son, who often acts like a condescending, foul-mouthed creep. In fact, he’s so annoying that Lynn, the protagonist in this family circus, sometimes lashes out at him in harsh ways that don’t always seem realistic or believable. Neither she nor any of the other adults really confront this young jerk or try to give him any discipline. Ultimately, many of the mood swings among these characters become annoying and contrived. They vary from being conciliatory to being shrill, depressing, mean, apathetic, victimized, annoying, and self-absorbed.
At 119 minutes, ANOTHER HAPPY DAY sort of wears out its welcome. Most, if not all, of the obscene, crude content is extremely gratuitous. Furthermore, the movie’s worldview is indirect and even erratic, but it does seem to present a very dark view of the American middle class family, as previous independent movies like AMERICAN BEAUTY have done. Also, the ending in ANOTHER HAPPY DAY comes to no real climax but just ends. The ending suggests that, although nothing’s resolved, these family members may eventually have another family reunion, but that’s one event the average moviegoer probably will want to skip, especially after sitting through ANOTHER HAPPY DAY.
Some deft dialogue and terrific acting by both veterans and newcomers in ANOTHER HAPPY DAY cannot hide the fact that this rather depressing movie’s filled with abundant crude language. The mood swings among the characters are a bit pat and often annoying. Most, if not all, of the obscene, crude content is gratuitous. Furthermore, the movie’s worldview is indirect and even erratic. Also, the ending comes to no real climax but just ends. Average moviegoers probably will want to skip this unpleasant family reunion.