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  • Director David Stanley is at his most pretentious and hermetic with "Happy?", a self-indulgent exercise in navel gazing, porn division. For me it helped explain why a talented guy chose XXX for a profession rather than attempting mainstream filmmaking -this script would have been rejected by all and sundry after a couple of pages or so.

    His favorite actor Randy Spears is insufferable (constantly pulling faces) in the role of a writer, tapping away at his typewriter as he voices over endless clichés that amount to little more than a variation on the proverbial Seven Year Itch. He's been married to Exotica for six years and wonders if he should commit to a lifetime, or see if the grass is greener with some other woman. The Walter Mitty sexual fantasies that follow are often erotic but endlessly stupid, thanks to Stanley's poverty-budget attempts at surrealism.

    Opening is a whiteout scene, not meant to be taking place in Heaven but merely whited out to save on set/decoration, as Mika Tan in a skimpy bit of lingerie (duly mocked in the BTS short subject on the DVD) services Chris Cannon and an ultra-scruffy version of Tony Tedeschi, condoms included as part of Wicked Pictures safe-sex policy.

    Spears gets to service wife Exotica, her amazing stripper-career bazooms dominating the frame, but not until we sit through endless complaining and wondering by Spears, seated at the opposite end of a super-sized breakfast table to illustrate how the two of them have grown apart. How quaint! (and cornball).

    Spears imagines himself getting old without her, represented by growing (or a visit to a Halloween shop) a ridiculous mustache. Later in the film they do split up, and sure enough, he grows said mustache for real.

    Besides Mika, sexy guest stars pop up to provide the all-important (and easily excisable for a Wicked 4-hour or 16-hour compilation release) XXX content, including a Sapphic tryst for redhead Justine Joli with Kim Kane in her blonde, pixie haircut phase -that turns into an imaginary threesome; cute Lindsey Meadows doing a lap dance that turns into sex for Marcus London at a strip joint, and Daisy Marie as a pole dancer at the same club.

    Stanley's personal fetishes are all over the place, beginning with cupcakes galore (offered by Daisy but in nearly every scene, and looking like Hostess products rather than fresh baked), foot fetishism (Exotica doing a one-foot plus hand job on hubby's dick and then licking spunk off her tootsie) and a thoroughly arbitrary scene-let of Spears playing tennis against himself (not quite ready for Antonioni's Blow Up).

    Picture's conclusion is cop-out on the half-shell, as David has Spears wax philosophically on the need to "let it be", and not rely on logic or questioning as he reunites with Exotica for a lame and insincere happy ending. It's Stanley's usual alliance with the irrational that often is invoked to cover his unwillingness to rewrite an illogical script when accepting the Porno Conventional Wisdom that no one cares about anything but the sex in his chosen field. To which I must counter the obvious: why write scripts at all DS, when your gonzo competitors make a living without them - and a decade after "Happy?" have put Stanley and most of his narrative-oriented peers out to pasture by application of Gresham's Law.