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Rental Unit: "Happy Endings"

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Yes, that is exactly the breed of dead horse "Happy Endings" beats on. And as the rule book of the ensemble comic drama clearly states, every character must have his or her tick or quirk. Otis (Jason Ritter) is a college-age dude who hides his homosexuality from everyone, including his father (Arnold). Jude (Gyllenhaal) sleeps with him to help his cause and to get Dad in bed, and if the film had simply stuck with this story line it might not have been half bad. Bradford and Gyllenhaal turn in believable renditions of a groping, earnest young gay and a scheming vixen, respectively, and to be fair, Arnold is not the most annoying thing in the movie.

That honor goes to Laura Dern, who mimes the same stricken facial expressions she bought at the dollar store years ago as one of a lesbian duo suspected of sperm napping. Coogan and David Sutcliffe are a gay duo who get caught up in severe paranoia. Lisa Kudrow is almost unrecognizable as a single woman blackmailed by hack indie-film director Nicky (Jesse Bradford), and shacking up with a married masseuse (Bobby Cannavale).

"Happy Endings" is so cockeyed and convoluted that it is hard to believe the publicity it garnered during its release last spring. The movie may tickle you with its gimmickry and forced outrageousness, but at no point does it seem genuine. It's too busy being cool. Like people, good movies stand out on their own. — Wayne Melton

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