Release Date: October 01, 1999
Starring: Jeremy Northam, Steve Zahn,
Ally Walker, William H. Macy,
& Illeana Douglas
Runtime: 98 minutes
Distributor: Miramax Films
Director: Mark Illsley
Producer: Mark Illsley, Rick Montgomery
& Ed Stone
Writer: Ed Stone, Mark Illsley & Phil
Address Comments To:
Despite this lurid twist and some other strong objectionable content, HAPPY, TEXAS attempts to be a relatively benign comedy, although its sentiments are clearly on the politically correct side. Thus, the unique situation in which the two convicts find themselves forces them to rethink their life of crime, and the movie ends with them promising to go straight. This redemptive outcome somewhat mitigates the objectionable aspects of the story.
Jeremy Northam (THE WINSLOW BOY) plays Harry, the smart one of the two convicts. Steve Zahn, fresh from his excellent turn as the hippie thief from last year's OUT OF SIGHT, plays Wayne Wayne Wayne Jr., the more volatile, not-so-bright convict. Wayne talks as if he's always got a wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth. Chappy, the town sheriff of Happy, Texas, played by William H. Macy of FARGO, PLEASANTVILLE and MYSTERY MEN, mistakes them for the pageant consultants because they stole the consultants' van. The consultants have not reported the van's theft because they'd rather take the insurance money and quit the pageant business altogether.
Complications ensue when Harry falls in love with the female bank owner, Jo, and the sheriff falls for Harry after he sees Harry and Wayne fighting. Wayne meanwhile starts enjoying his work helping the little girls in town prepare for the pageant. He becomes attracted to the girls' lively schoolteacher, Ms. Schaefer. In fact, Wayne is more successful with Ms. Schaeffer than Harry is with Jo, who already has a fianc=E9 and mistakes Harry's attentions for being just a sign of his more "sensitive" homosexual "nature." Despite her mistake, Harry cannot bring himself to go through with his plan to rob Jo's bank. Harry's act of chivalry is reversed when a third escaped convict, who had escaped with Harry and Wayne, unexpectedly shows up with other plans.
It's the characterizations and the acting which make this movie work. Unlike the third escaped convict, Harry and Wayne are fairly likable, though misguided, fellows. Northam and Zahn play these two as if they have some decency remaining within their souls. This naturally helps make both the audience and the other characters respond favorably to them. In addition, William H. Macy, Ally Walker and Illeana Douglas as the three love interests also create sympathetic characters. Finally, despite some strong foul language, the homosexual theme and an implied fornication scene between Wayne and Ms. Schaefer, the movie retains a sweet-natured quality throughout, mostly because of the small-town country values portrayed and the images of the town's little girls trying to participate in a beauty pageant that's mostly about winning a talent show.
Of course, all of this Happy-Ness just makes the politically correct, pro-homosexual aspects of HAPPY, TEXAS all the more dangerous, biblically speaking. Although these aspects are played mostly for laughs, they nonetheless have the intended effect of getting ignorant people to believe erroneously that homosexual behavior is harmless rather than destructive and evil. Such false thinking only leads to more erosion of the Bible's authority in society. Once you reject the clear authority of the Bible in matters regarding sexual morality, then surely the Bible's authority on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of Christ and his apostles are diminished. In this way, the pro-homosexual agenda of the mass media undermines the very foundations of Christianity. Thus, only this movie's anti-crime sentiments save it from becoming totally evil.