Music Literature Film Index About

Happiness, Directed by Todd Solondz

Good Machine, October 16, 1998 (US)

Screenplay: Todd Solondz

Starring: Jane Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dylan Baker, and Lara Flynn Boyle

Joy Jordan (Jane Adams)
: I don’t know what it is … I just feel there’s so much hostility directed at me.

Trish Maplewood (Cynthia Stevenson): Oh honey, did another guy dump you?

Well aren’t we a happy lot? Happy, happy, happy. Pay no mind to the dejected girlfriends, the strung out boyfriends, the dazed and confused spouses who are wondering how it all slipped away. Don’t look to close into the faces of workers, or non-workers. The unemployment numbers rise. A mortgage payment is skipped and the chase is on. Access to life-saving dolls vanishes.

Mona Jordan (Louise Lasser): Where’s my Valium?

Lenny Jordan (Ben Gazzara): What?

Mona: Never mind! (under her breath) Fucking asshole.

Where the hell is my Valium! And it’s only Monday? Are you kidding me with this shit?

Trish: So anyway … Joy came by today.

Bill Maplewood (Dylan Baker): How’s she doing?

Trish: Oh, God, I dunno, and frankly … I’m concerned. I mean, she’s not like me. She doesn’t have it all. She pretends to be happy, but I can see right through her: she’s miserable.

Bill: Why do you think that is?

Trish: To be frank, I think she’s lazy. She’s not a go-getter, like me or Helen. And she’s so picky. I gave Damien Ross her phone number, for what it’s worth, and Joy sounded interested, naturally, but … I dunno. I’m afraid to have to say it, but truly it’s what I believe: she’ll always be alone.

Bill: We’re all alone.

So you’re rolling right along on one of those precious good days, boarding the on-time A-train to Expressville. Everything is coming up roses.

"Would you giggle if my pants were inside out?
Would you giggle if my pockets were hanging out?
Would you giggle if you my shoes were on the wrong feet?
Would you giggle if I said to you, you’re so sweet?"

-from The Wiggles song, Would You Giggle?

The music fades but you are still smiling, when suddenly, bam! Despite its innocuous delivery, this blow is absolute, straight to the gut, and you get your wind knocked clear to yesterday. These little sucker punches are sneaky too, veiled as jokes despite any trace of a punch line. They all seem to be generated from that same “just kidding” factory.

Trish: The truth is, I always thought that you’d never amount to much … that you would end up alone, without a career or anything. You know, really, it’s what we all thought, Mom, Dad, Helen … everyone. Oh I always prayed that I’d be wrong, but somehow you always seemed so doomed to failure. But now I see that’s not true. There’s a glimmer of hope for you after all. I’m sorry I’m repeating myself. I’m just so happy for you.

A definition.

hap-pi-ness       [hap-ee-nis]


1. the quality or state of being happy.
2. good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.

Origin: 1520-30


Good fortune? Pleasure? Biiiiiiitch, pullleeeeaaaze … I just got dumped by my girlfriend.

Andy Kornbluth (Jon Lovitz): Is it someone else?

Joy: No, it’s just you.

I used to hope that I would never hear the words, “I met someone else.” But then you learn there is actually a worse scenario, when the blame can be dumped on nobody else but yourself.

Bill: What secret would you like me to tell you?

Trish: Like how come no matter how much you treat me like shit, I can’t help loving you even more.

I’m reminded of a lyric from a song in the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

“Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head
But that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turnin’ red”

-from the Hal David and Burt Bacharach song, Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

Sure, you have problems. Big problems. It would be easier if you had it like the Wallenbergs. Or the Johnsons who just put an inground pool in for heaven’s sake. Of course, we all have it better than the McHughes so don’t go there, they don’t count.

In spite of it all, there is always a reason to laugh. Listen up. This is where you should pay close attention. This is the smiley face sticker that you can stick wherever the hell you need to stick it. Here goes: You can always laugh if for no other reason than to acknowledge how truly and impossibly fucked up things have managed to get.

By the way, who is that creepoid sitting alone in the theater laughing his ass off at this movie?

(If I said it was me, would it be okay?)