October 16, 1998 0 By Fans
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The lives of many individuals connected by the desire for happiness, often from sources usually considered dark or evil.

Release Year: 1998

Rating: 7.8/10 (33,471 voted)

Critic's Score: 81/100

Todd Solondz

Stars: Jane Adams, Jon Lovitz, Philip Seymour Hoffman

When a young woman rejects her current overweight suitor in a restaurant, he unexpectedly places a curse on her. The film then moves on to her sisters. One is a happily married woman with a psychiatrist husband and three kids. Unfortunately the husband develops an unnatural fascination for his 11 year old son's male classmates, fantasizes about mass killing in a park, and masturbates to teen magazines. One of his patients has an unrequited fascination for the third sister. Meanwhile the apparently stable 40 year marriage of the sister's parents suddenly unravels when he decides he has had enough and wants to live a hermit's life in Florida. Obviously, the whole movie is slightly warped in its viewpoint and certainly presents abnormal relationships among all of its parties.


Jane Adams

Joy Jordan

Jon Lovitz

Andy Kornbluth

Philip Seymour Hoffman


Dylan Baker

Bill Maplewood

Lara Flynn Boyle

Helen Jordan

Justin Elvin

Timmy Maplewood

Cynthia Stevenson

Trish Maplewood

Lila Glantzman-Leib

Chloe Maplewood

Gerry Becker


Rufus Read

Billy Maplewood

Louise Lasser

Mona Jordan

Ben Gazzara

Lenny Jordan

Camryn Manheim


Arthur J. Nascarella

Detective Berman

Molly Shannon


Release Date: 16 October 1998

Filming Locations: New Jersey, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $3,000,000


Opening Weekend: $30,230
(11 October 1998)
(3 Screens)

Gross: $2,807,390

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


Director Cameo:
[Todd Solondz]
as the doorman in Allen, Helen, and Kristina's building.


Crew or equipment visible:
A crewmember's head is reflected in the window of the car when Bill is sitting in it after buying a magazine.


I don't know I could ever really begin to talk to her. I mean what can I talk about? I have nothing to talk about, I'm boring. And that I know, I've been told before so don't tell me it's not true 'cause it's a fact. I bore the people. People look at me and they get bored, people listen to me and they zone out… bored. 'Who is that boring person?', they think. 'I've never before met anyone so boring'. And I'm for her to see how boring I am.

User Review



There are only a handful of films that have a distinct polarizing
affect on the audience–A Clockwork Orange, The Cook, the Thief, His
Wife & Her Lover, and I would even lump in American Beauty–these are
movies you either get, or you don't. And if you don't get it, you will
hate it. Open minded viewers need only apply, and that's certainly the
case with "Happiness." I remember leaving the theater absolutely
shocked, and not just because of the events on screen. I was shocked
that I found the movie so intelligent and oddly entertaining. The
actors surely must have felt that, after reading the screenplay. And
there are some big actors in this–veterans like Ben Gazzara, Louise
Lasser, Elizabeth Ashley, mixing with new talent like Philip Seymour
Hoffman, Camryn Manheim, Dylan Baker, Lara Flynn Boyle, etc.

The subject matter is truly unsettling–a parental figure, respected in
his community, does some horrible things, and this is the main reason
why so many people have a hard time with this movie. Did this material
really need to be examined in modern cinema? Well, yes–in the same way
that David Lynch had to explore it in Blue Velvet. Happiness is a
masterpiece of irony (even in the title), and finds humor in the most
unusual and downright bizarre circumstances. You will not see another
movie like it. Guaranteed. And fair warning–you could very well
despise it. And it's probably a fair estimate that its writer/director,
Todd Solondz, doesn't give a damn.