Reviewed by Rhonda Gilbertson
Rating: 9 Beans
have to plead guilty to being a sucker for what most people call "girl" movies. Romantic comedies, tragi-comedies, and dramas, I can be sucked in to almost any of them. My home video collection includes such titles as Fried Green Tomatoes, Circle of Friends, and Some Kind of Wonderful, and I have just watched them to death.
But maybe I'm getting a bit more selective as I age. Now I don't automatically swoon when I see a preview in the theater for movies like You've Got Mail, and Stepmom, and I'm beginning to feel a bit fed up with the by-the-book writing in many current "girl" movies. Now if a screenwriter wants to make me swoon, they have to go to a bit more effort, be a little different, the best example being Kevin Smith with Chasing Amy.
Having said all that, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I hate, hate, HATED Happy Together, which I had the misfortune of seeing on video recently. As much as I hate screenwriters just calling in their same old plots and formulas, I was even more annoyed to see that the writers for this film took little fragments of everyone else's fodder, and threw them all together in a vain attempt to be "quirky". Happy Together makes a HUGE effort to be "quirky" (and if you view it yourself, you'll understand why I'm going to insist on putting quotation marks around the word) and "different", and "shocking", and "new", but all it succeeds in being is immensely irritating. We're talking irritating like a rash, here.
Our "quirky" heroine in this movie is Alexandra, played by Helen Slater (Supergirl, Ruthless People), whose nickname of Alex has confused the housing staff at her college, resulting in her being assigned to the same dorm room as Chris, a very serious aspiring writer played by Patrick Dempsey (Run, Hugo Pool). Okay, we haven't seen this plot in about a thousand other movies, have we? Of course, Alex is given to flights of fancy at the most inopportune times, usually when Chris is trying to write, study, or sleep, but somehow his anger at her behaviour doesn't keep him from noticing that, wow, the girl's a knockout. Sure, she's flighty, rude, and self-absorbed, but isn't she just the cutest thing?
So we know that this odd couple is going to eventually fall in love, and of course they do, but that would be just a little too easy, and there have to be obstacles in their paths before they can be ultimately happy. An example: Alex declares herself engaged after one date to Slash, a heavy metal musician about to leave on tour with his band. She somehow forgets to inform Slash of their breakup when she falls in love with Chris, so we get treated to the Return of Slash scene, where he pounds on Chris a little. Another problem: Alex and Chris have been so tied up in one another that they've accomplished pretty much nothing in their courses (they seem to share all of them, what a coincidence!), so they're in deep trouble as finals approach. They know they should study, but darn it, they just can't draw themselves away from each other long enough to do it, so Alex's great solution to this problem is for them to cheat. That plan fails, and Chris is nearly thrown out of college. Alex's version of apologies for all her distracting "quirkiness" are "I don't know why I do what I do!", and "Aren't I the best mistake you've ever made?" Do we really want to know the answer to that?
What other "quirky" facets are there to this movie? Alex's sense of decorating is certainly right up there...we have a dorm room decorated with inflatable palm trees and a kiddie pool in the middle of the floor, nice beach tunes on the turntable at all hours. Speaking of the dorm room - where the hell IS this college? I'm pretty sure the screenwriters never attended college themselves, because these rooms are positively palatial. Chris makes friends with a man who drags a fully dressed female mannequin around with him everywhere he goes, insisting she's his girlfriend. Ooookay, that doesn't just fall under the category of "quirky", but maybe "mentally unstable" as well, and definitely "annoying as hell".
About the only good things I can find in this movie are the music (Hey, they play the title song, by Herman's Hermits, and you gotta love that!), and the blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance of Brad Pitt in his first movie role as a theater classmate of Alex and Chris. Strangely enough, the Internet Movie Database lists Brad's character's name as Brian, but he only gets one line of dialogue, and it certainly didn't include "Hi, I'm Brian!" in it.
So, I think Happy Together should be avoided by all, unless you're seriously desperate for a Brad Pitt sighting, and even then it just ain't worth it, folks. Now, do I get a prize for the BMN review with the greatest number of " "s in it?
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