Welcome to Happiness movie review: leave it in the closet

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Welcome to Happiness red light Chauntal Lewis

MaryAnn’s quick take…

Its self-conscious eccentricity is so banal that it feels like a parody of “the American indie.” Behold magic rocks and a Significant fortune cookie!tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Woody (Kyle Gallner: American Sniper) writes children’s books, but he’s suffering a case of writer’s block on his latest. Perhaps if he wasn’t getting constantly interrupted by strangers coming to his door — invited or directed or drawn by unknown forces — looking to go through the portal in his closet, which leads to a mysterious place Woody knows not where, because he has never been able to go through it himself. He has a pretty neighbor, Trudy (Olivia Thirlby: The Wedding Ringer), who exists solely, apparently, that he may awkwardly flirt with her, and his landlord (a completely wasted Nick Offerman: Hotel Transylvania 2), is called Moses, which won’t turn out to be Significant at all. Meanwhile, a suicidal man, Nyles (Brendan Sexton III: Seven Psychopaths), discovers a baseball card he owns is incredibly rare and valuable, which perhaps the mysterious Procter (Keegan-Michael Key: The Angry Birds Movie) might like to buy. And then everyone pretends Nyles’s juvenile sketches of cats are amazing examples of artistry, for some reason. I’m making Welcome to Happiness sound more coherent than it is. Writer-director Oliver Thompson’s first film is everything that gives American indies a bad name: its self-conscious eccentricity is so banal that it all feels like a parody. Quirky bouncy music pops up on the soundtrack at random intervals; suddenly everything is in slo-mo for no reason except calculated oddness; behold magic rocks and a Significant fortune cookie. (So much Significance!) It’s all in service of phony feel-good woo-woo about regrets, or somethingtweet. If Charlie Kaufman dug out a script he wrote when he was a precocious 12-year-old, and wasn’t too embarrassed to burn it, and then traveled back in time to give it to 12-year-old Wes Anderson to direct, that would be more fun to watch that this depressingly terrible movie.

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