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Movie Review: Happy Endings

Alternate Title: Dysfunction Junction

Story: This is a wildly entertaining film by director and writer Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex). It film challenges both your concentration skills (think of it like solving many puzzles) and ability to follow multiple story lines.

We find ourselves in contemporary Los Angeles following at least six story lines where lives cross paths, parallel and at times crash (yes, like that other terrific film of the same name).

Director Roos uses text as narrative as each story unfolds and fades to black before we move to another storyline. The text is funny, helpful and keeps you on your toes.It works so well that I was sorry when one story was interrupted to move to another but was quickly engaged in the new line because each character held my interest.

What's it about? It's about life, love, trust, choice and determination. It involves brothers and sisters, fathers and sons, gay, straight and indecideds. It has an ensemble cast that felt recognizable and comfortable to watch.

If you like engaging characters, a bit of a challenge and lots of surprises, check out this summer hit.

Acting: Kudos all around to a fine ensemble cast. Lisa Kudrow, who I thought would fall into the Friend's Phoebe character, was more than fine as Mamie. Steve Coogan was terrific as her step brother. Bobby Cannavale always surprises me with his range and ability to be in great films. Maggie Gyllenhaal is perfect as the needy nymph, Jude. Jason Ritter (son of Jack) is going to have a long career ahead of him. Tom Arnold was wonderful as the 'Dad'. Laura Dern, Jesse Bradford, David Sutcliffe and Sarah Clarke all added to this well done film.

Predilection: None.

Critters: Two sweet dogs.

Food: Lots of food, more in the preparation stages than in the actual eating.

Blatant Product Placement: Apple computer gets a big plug for its great movie making software.

Opening Titles: We are jolted within two minutes into the film. All credits are at the end.

Visual Art: Lots of fine paintings and sculptures are seen in the LA homes.

Theater Audience: Packed for a Sunday afternoon.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 2

Squirm Scale: 0

Predictability Level: I did not have a clue as to what was going to happen.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Yes. I think an original screenplay nod is in order.

Nit Picking: The film could have been fifteen minutes shorter. But I enjoyed it so much I am letting that minor flaw go.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. For some of Maggie Gyllenhaal's other films try renting: Criminal, Mona Lisa Smile, Casa de los babys, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Adaptation, 40 Days and 40 Nights, Secretary, Riding in Cars with Boys, Donnie Darko and Cecil B. DeMented.

Length: A bit over two hours.