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Erica H. Vital

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HAPPY ENDINGS - 2005

SELECT ANOTHER FLICK CHICK MOVIE REVIEW FROM THE FILM CRITICS IN BLUE
J. ThorburnV. AlexanderC. PattersonJ. CorcoranPolly Peluso
Erica Vital

ERICA HECTOR VITAL

HAPPY ENDINGS

By
Erica Hector Vital
Red Rock Review
ericavital@cox.net
ericav@theflickchicks.com

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

I count myself as one of the enlightened ones. Never having been a fan of the hit NBC, coffee shop sitcom "Friends", I missed the campy 90's exploits of David Scwhimmer, Courtney Cox, and Matt Leblanc.  But the work of Lisa Kudrow, the leggy comedienne who, as Phoebe, filled the role of ditzy blonde for over 200 episodes,  has nearly made me regret my snobbish ways. Kudrow is riveting to watch, irresistible not to identify with.  In the latest Don Roos ensemble drama "Happy Endings," Kudrow kicks in the fourth wall between audience expectation of the sitcom prat-fall and the challenging vulnerability of character acting. 

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Happy Endings, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tom Arnold, Jason Ritter, Laura Dern, Lisa Kudrow, David Sutcliffe, Steve Coogan, Bobby Cannavale, Jesse Bradford, Don Roos



Kudrow's "Mamie" Toll is a career anguished, single, urbanite who sublimates the secret of aborted motherhood by working as a counselor in an planned parenthood clinic.  She wakes.  She works. She dodges family gatherings until she is shaken out of her sleepwalker's existence by a gun toting film student who may, or may not, be the child she'd elected not to keep.  This Tarantino wannabe, played by the sagely dark Jesse Bradford, blackmails Mamie, holding the name of her child hostage on the condition that Mamie funds and stars in his latest film project.  It is through her canny efforts to outmaneuver her blackmailer that Mamie comes to life, and as in the 1998 relationship drama, "The Opposite of Sex," director Don Roos is not afraid to throw Kudrow mentally and physically under the wheels of anger, lust, and desperation.  Mamie lies, deceives, and in a climatic scene with Maggie Gyllenhaall, steps out of the bounds of detachment to allow herself to feel.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Happy Endings, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tom Arnold, Jason Ritter, Laura Dern, Lisa Kudrow, David Sutcliffe, Steve Coogan, Bobby Cannavale, Jesse Bradford, Don Roos



Gone is the sitcom certainty of the bliss filled ending. Roos follows Mamie and her stepbrother, Charlie Peppitone, a gay restaurateur and father to Mamie's misbegotten child, through a labyrinth of self-deception that leads to open endings and further isolation. One of Roos' earliest scenes flashes back to a moment when Mamie, as the seventeen year-old Miriam, was more alive, more present in her skin.  It is the moment when this version of herself, played by starlet Hallee Hirsh, seduces stepbrother Charlie.  We aren't certain whether Charlie Peppitone's later homosexuality stands in direct correlation to that seduction and the forced exile of Miriam which follows.  But it is clear that Mamie Toll's frigid front, which includes assuming the most sexless nickname imaginable, "Mamie", disconcertingly close to "mammy," and all things sexless and maternal, is connected to that moment. 

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Happy Endings, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tom Arnold, Jason Ritter, Laura Dern, Lisa Kudrow, David Sutcliffe, Steve Coogan, Bobby Cannavale, Jesse Bradford, Don Roos

Roos' heroine, who Kudrow interprets with a weary stillness, has removed herself so completely from that passionate seventeen year-old seductress that she is uncertain about her right to sensuality. When she visits her lover, the Latin-Adonis, Bobby Cannavalle in the back room of the salon where he works as a massage technician, their lovemaking takes on a clinical, formal air, as if
Mamie were paying for it.  Mamie has so thoroughly divided her life from passion that she does not recognize the need she has for Javier and, in time, for her edgy blackmailer/director, Nicky, who is more than willing to take her back to that sexually expressive girlhood. 

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Happy Endings, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tom Arnold, Jason Ritter, Laura Dern, Lisa Kudrow, David Sutcliffe, Steve Coogan, Bobby Cannavale, Jesse Bradford, Don Roos



In an alternate storyline featuring peak performances from Tom Arnold and a pouting Jason Ritter as his sexually convoluted son, "Otis", a sexy Maggie Gyllenhaal emerges as the story's secondary heroine.  Gyllenhaal's "Jude" is the foil to Mamie's chilly exterior.  Willing to see the compromise and the currency of desire, Jude pays a price for her passion that she is willing to accept.  As Mamie's stepbrother/first love, British actor Steve Coogan melds a smug self-involvement with a naiveté that often lies behind disillusioned and damaged goods.  In pursuit of the truth as to whether his lover is the true biological father of a toddler born to  beautiful lesbian couple Diane and Pam Ferris, a cool and self-righteous Sarah Clarke and Laura Dern, he instead uncovers a more painful deception.  

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Happy Endings, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tom Arnold, Jason Ritter, Laura Dern, Lisa Kudrow, David Sutcliffe, Steve Coogan, Bobby Cannavale, Jesse Bradford, Don Roos

The concept of "the happy ending" from which Roos takes his title, speaks to the commerce of love.  The price we pay to gain satisfaction is often as cut and dry as the haggling between a sex-parlor masseuse and a pleasure seeking client.   Roos' characters fall headlong into the revelation that love and life often come at the end of some very sordid, self-deluding bargains we make with ourselves and with those who are willing to play along.  Temporary connection, release, and satisfaction is often the result of such transactions. Definitely not a sitcom ending. And we can thank Roos for that.

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

SELECT ANOTHER FLICK CHICK MOVIE REVIEW FROM THE FILM CRITICS IN BLUE
J. ThorburnV. AlexanderC. PattersonJ. CorcoranPolly Peluso
Erica Vital

 

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