Happy Endings

Rated 2.0

Taking the glut of praise for The Opposite of Sex to heart, filmmaker Don Roos continues some irritating habits. This one, too, has the advantage of a good performance from Lisa Kudrow, who does her best even with the script’s disingenuous expectations. For example: The shaggy wannabe documentarist (Jesse Bradford) who blackmails her into becoming his subject with information about the child she regrets giving up for adoption. “Your guilt and stuff,” he says, “that would be our selling point.” Another of several stories involves a sexually confused young man (Jason Ritter, button-cute) and his comfortably wealthy father (Tom Arnold, guileless) competing for the same woman (Maggie Gyllenhaal, note-perfectly infuriating as a lackadaisical and manipulative muse). It’s about family, and the stories we tell of ourselves, or something. It’s also about hackneyed indie-film mannerisms—the nonlinear narrative seems like sleight of hand to distract from its sitcomish plots, and Roos’ compulsion to intrude with annotating screen text doesn’t help. Gyllenhaal’s reprise performance of two Billy Joel ballads without irony scores points, but generally there’s a veneer of affectation on the thing—even Bobby Cannavale, always a natural, has an occasionally unnatural accent. Oh, and Laura Dern’s in it, too, but not really worth mentioning, which is a perfect index of what’s wrong with this picture.