Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
In "Happy Tears," two sisters, one poor, one rich, one steady, the other obsessed with possessions, deal with their old dad's approach to senility and his "girlfriend's" approach to his money. This story takes on an eerie resonance with the performance by Rip Torn as the aging father. He was recently in the news for being arrested, at age 78, for breaking into a bank while intoxicated and carrying a firearm.
To be sure, it was late at night, he had apparently forgotten he had the firearm, and after all, the bank looked a lot like his house. Nor is senility his problem. He is now in rehab and I wish him good fortune because he is a fine actor. Ann Landers used to write about the danger signals of alcoholism. His arrest in the bank surely would be one of them. Still, to stir up such a scandal at 78 is perhaps even a tiny accomplishment, when so many his age are no longer physically able to break into banks.
Even more worthy is Torn's work here as Joe, cantankerous, stubborn as a mule, and oblivious to the fact that his "nurse" Shelly (Ellen Barkin) does not practice medicine but a far older profession. This is evident to his daughter Laura (Demi Moore), who has flown in from San Francisco to decide what should be done with him. Of course he insists he's perfectly fine and will stay right at home, thank you.
As the film opens, Laura is on the phone with her sister Jayne (Parker Posey), telling her it's her duty to fly in and help with Joe. Jayne is a shopaholic, and we see her buying a pair of boots so expensive that if it were my money, I'd just buy a car. Posey is an actress with a nice line in flightiness, and here she blends it interestingly with selfishness and irresponsibility. Soon after her arrival, the need to tidy up after Joe's problems with No. 2 becomes the first of several life lessons she'll learn.