Last night I rewatched Happy Endings. I am not big on multiple viewings, principally because there's always older films I need to catch up with and new movies coming out (well, right now not so much but you get my point). But when I do see a film twice or thrice it ends up falling into one of these four categories:
1) Those which confirm what I originally thought.
2) Those which grow more loveable, warts and all.
3) Those whose weaknesses become overpowering.
4) Oops, my bad. This film is great.
The majority of films -probably as much as 80-85% fall into the first category. The reaction might be tweaked or tilt slightly more positive or negative but it's the same reaction. In the smiling second category you'll find films like Happy Ending. I liked the film the first time. The second time, I noticed all the same things I wished were different --some shots need to be held longer, the experimental comic bits (text on screen) are hit and miss, one performance still bothers me . And like most multiple narratives, some storylines hold more interest than others (always a danger for anyone playing the Altman game). But this time I just didn't care.
Roos really loves all of the characters. The humanism of the film, the lack of judgment, the complex tones ["it's a comedy. Sort of."]. If you've never seen it it's worth a rental. And if you liked it but couldn't decide how much, try it again. One thing I loved so much more the second time? The film's ending. I am crazy about Maggie Gyllenhaal's singing voice. The song is "I Love You Just The Way You Are" and the film seals the deal visually with a great long held closeup of Lisa Kudrow. If you haven't seen the film try to picture her character, a mix of Phoebe Buffet's late Friends bitchy wisecracks, mixed with Sarah Jessica Parker's audience distancing behavior in The Family Stone and Grace Adler's neurosis and self-absorption from "Will & Grace" without the punchlines/laughtrack and you have something approximating the prickly and unhappy "Mamey" from Happy Endings. In the last shot of this uptight woman smiling I felt as if writer/director Don Roos was actually transferring his intense affection for her over onto the audience, me. It was a great feeling. Sentiment earned.
Later today we'll visit films falling into the third & fourth categories... But how about you? Which film asked you to love it more on a second viewing?