HAPPINESS RUNS, 2010
Starring: Mark L. Young, Shiloh Fernandez, Hanna Hall, Laura Peters, Jesse Plemons
Victor is fed up with the lifestyle of the hippie commune he was raised in. When his childhood crush Becky comes back from college to take care of her ailing father, Victor comes up with the plan to sell weed to make money and run away to a big city and take Becky with him. But of course, plans never seem to go they way they're meant to. REVIEW:
Ever wonder what became of all the kids that were born into any number of the hippie communes during the time of the saying “make love, not war”? Ever wanted to see a movie about said kids? Yeah, me neither, but I watched “Happiness Runs” anyway because it only had a couple days left of streaming on Netflix.
The hippie movement was sex, drugs, rock and roll, and togetherness. Whole communities sprung up with people living together and helping each other out while also getting stoned together and having sex with one another at random with no worries of disease or pregnancy.
20 years later and we see how the kids from these relationships have turned out. The teens of this hippie commune all drink and do drugs just like their parents, and Victor no longer sees this as a good environment to continue living in (especially when his mother is paying for the commune rather than giving him the money he is entitled to, which he wants to use to move away).
Victor's childhood crush, Becky, comes back from college to help her father who has cancer. Unfortunately, it seems she's already hooked up with Chad- the local bumbling drug dealer who charges his friends too much money for inferior highs.
Realizing that Victor is into her, Becky comes to his home and they have sex. Victor suggests that she run away with him as soon as he has the money to move away. He intends to get the money by selling drugs with fellow hippie child Jake who's coming to the commune from his time away in New York.
As soon as Jake gets into town, he and Becky have sex and Jake cuts Victor out of the drug-selling scheme. Drama ensues. All of the teens in the commune are on reckless, destructive paths: multiple sex partners back to back, drugs, alcohol, heavier drugs, cutting... and their parents (still living their old hippie lifestyles of orgies and getting high) are completely oblivious of what their children are up to.
Hippie children aside, the story of “Happiness Runs” feels like a tale we've seen in countless indie films before it: teenager tired of the life they've always lived because they suddenly get it in their head that they're better than their life/town/parents/everyone they know and so they want to move on but the plan blows up in their face when it relies on other people... namely having someone of the opposite sex be their traveling companion because they are “in love” with said member of opposite sex despite barely knowing the person and/or that person being completely wrong for them and generally all-around toxic.
In short: it's an overly complicated story that has been played out to the point of nausea. I was hoping for something new and original here, but all I got was more of the same but with somewhat unique characters: the children of a hippie commune. Granted, this is the first film I can think of that centers around the kids of a hippie commune... but it's just not enough to make this movie anything less than a low-budget cliché!
The types of characters in this film, coupled with the tone of the film over all makes this movie feel like something Sofia Coppola would have directed... which is NOT a good thing (I dare you to watch “Virgin Suicides”, “Lost in Translation” and “Marie Antoinette” without yawning!).
The cinematography was disappointing. This is an indie film starring hippie children who are getting high and having sex... that should be fun, right? But the shots are all static and uninteresting. There is SO much that could have been done with the camera to make this a far more dynamic film that it ended up being... that just wasn't even attempted.
The acting is decent, but I was more interested in Hanna Hall's fantastic breasts appearing on the screen with such regularity than anything else that happened in the movie. And while her breasts were pretty fantastic, clearly the movie was not.
“Happiness Runs” is a cliché independent film that doesn't even try to break the mold. It's a throwaway film that nobody will remember a week after watching it (and that might even be too generous by 3 or 4 days!).
I give “Happiness Runs” a 1.5 out of 5.
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