by Joel Smith & r & & r & Happy Endings & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & H & lt;/span & appy Endings is an indie soap opera. Young rocker wannabe Otis has the hots for club owner Steve, but Steve is in a committed relationship with Gil, who suspects his childhood friend Pam's baby was born from sperm he deposited at the sperm bank, and she never told him. Otis also has Jude to deal with. The young vixen sleeps with him to make his dad think that he's not gay (he is) then leverages his little secret against him while she tries to bed his rich father. Meanwhile, young filmmaker Nicky, eager to make a documentary that will get him into film school, accosts Mamie, telling her he knows the whereabouts of the now-grown son she placed for adoption at birth, and whom he wants to film the dramatic reunion. Instead Mamie offers her Latin masseuse boyfriend as the subject for a documentary about undocumented sex workers. He's not one. But Nicky doesn't know that.
Luckily, director Don Roos (Bounce, The Opposite of Sex) provides some clues to unraveling all this nonsense most obviously with a series of text cards that appear onscreen sporadically throughout the movie. Sometimes they overreach (telling us not to worry about certain characters), sometimes they're simplistic (explaining away Mamie's emotional pallor with a sentence about a gambling ex-husband). But they also provide an interesting meta-narrative, as the disembodied director seems to speak directly to you.
Slightly less obvious is the parallel between the stories of Mamie and Jude (played by Lisa Kudrow and Maggie Gyllenhaal, respectively). Or maybe not the parallel & r & maybe the perpendicular. Mamie's been a soulless stone since she tried to abort the pregnancy she got into with her stepbrother, Steve (played as an adult by the always remarkable Steve Coogan). Jude's the opposite -- a wild hare, a conniver
but she's heading in Mamie's direction. It's their intersection near the film's end that provides the not-entirely-happy ending suggested by the movie's title.
But if you still can't entirely grasp what's going on (and we wouldn't fault you), there are the special features, in which director Don Roos actually does speak directly to you (with Kudrow and the director of photography) and they piece together the making of the film in a short but watchable featurette.