A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Maggie Gyllenhaal steals the show in "Happy Endings," as a seductive golddigger who realizes that the fastest way to a rich dad is through his gay son. Her character, Jude, is a bold tease who first seduces Otis (Jason Ritter), then discovers he's gay, and lets his dad Frank (Tom Arnold) know that she prefers an older man. Her cynicism is part of her allure; her journey through their family leaves them in confusion and disarray, if momentarily happier.
Elsewhere in Don Roos' "Happy Endings" are characters not so engaging. The movie itself seems discouraged by its depressed characters and tries to cheer us up with written subtitles. After the opening scene, in which a woman running in the street is struck by a car, the first title slides onto the screen: "She's not dead."
We meet Mamie at 17; her mother, a subtitle explains, has just married a guy who owns a chain of restaurants. She has gained a 16-year-old stepbrother, Charley, "who will be a virgin for 10 more minutes." Her seduction technique is concise: "You know, we're not really brother and sister." She becomes pregnant and goes to Phoenix to get an abortion.
The film leaps forward to the present. Charley, now played by Steve Coogan, has inherited his father's restaurants and runs the one that is still open. He's gay; his partner is Gil (David Sutcliffe). They're friends with a lesbian couple, Pam and Diane (Laura Dern and Sarah Clarke). Gil at one point donated sperm to help them have a baby, and indeed they have a baby, which is allegedly, however, not Gil's. Charley has deep suspicions; the kid looks a lot like Gil, and he thinks they're lying so they don't have to share the kid.