Happy, Texas is a real delight... a witty, sharply drawn comedy with a top-notch ensemble cast that never stoops to cheap laughs. Steve Zahn is wonderful as Wayne Wayne Wayne, Jr., a pugnacious car thief with "a real way with people" who finds an unexpected connection with uptight school teacher Illeana Douglas. As his partner Harry Sawyer, Jeremy Northam gives a flawless performance as a con man with a conscience who falls for the town's banker, beautifully played by Ally Walker. Bill Macy rounds out the cast as Sheriff Chappy Dent, who proves that life is for "findin' out."
There are plenty of scenes in Happy, Texas that are laugh out loud funny, but some of the best are those that reveal the growth of the characters as they come to know one another. The dance scene with Jeremy Northam and Bill Macy is a perfect moment: a slice of well-timed physical comedy ("I'm gonna spin ya again!"), but also a window into the development of Northam's character as he comes to know and respect Macy's.
The chemistry between all of the actors is right on the money as well. Each of these characters was alone until Harry and Wayne came to town. When thrown together in the days before the Little Miss Fresh Squeezed Talent Competition, they find romance in the unknown, taking a chance with a stranger and finding it to be worth the risk.
This film is that rare find: a funny, genuinely sweet comedy that dares not to have a dark side. First time movie-makers Mark Illsley and Ed Stone made an independent film on a shoe-string budget that outclasses most films made by major studios. You'll be more than happy that you found this gem.
The DVD is completely loaded: a writer/director's commentary, deleted scenes (which can be viewed with or without commentary), interviews, a featurette, and a handful of music videos. If you loved the movie, the DVD is a must-have.
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