This American independent directed and co-written by first-timer Mark Illsley
has such a skilled, genial cast and is made with such an easy professionalism
that Miramax sensibly swooped it up at the 1999 Sundance Festival. But perhaps
Miramax also recognized the essential squareness of this seemingly offbeat
movie and spotted the potential for a mass Hugh-and-Julia audience.
What starts off as a zany, lunatic farce -- three prisoners stuck together on
a chain gang, one of them a mass murderer -- turns slowly into a bland,
middle-of-the-road romantic comedy. The best part is the stupid stuff early on,
when two of the convicts escape in a van and assume the identities of the van
owners: a gay couple who travel through the Deep South putting on children's
beauty pageants. There's real comedy-team potential with Jeremy Northam and
Steve Zahn as a kind of oily Dean Martin/Anglo Cheech Marin duo who hang out in
small-town Texas waiting for a chance to rob the local bank. But both are soon
enmeshed in amour (Ally Walker, Illeana Douglas), whereupon the laughs deplete.
And only the most straitlaced audience will find much humor in the coming-out
of a local cop (William M. Macy) and his unrequited love for Northam.
Meanwhile, if you're going to call a place Happy, Texas, then build around it
some ha-ha jolly jokes. Screens at the Copley Place Saturday, September 18 at 7 and 9:45
p.m. and Sunday, September 19 at 11:15 a.m. and 1:30 and 4 p.m.
Film Festival Feature Films
Keepers of the Frame |
The Runner |
The Carriers Are Waiting |
The War Zone |
Happy, Texas |
Joe the King |
The Legend of 1900 |
Best Laid Plans |
Original Diner Guys |
The Glass Jar |
Wirey Spindell |
Starry Night |
More Boston Film Festival information, film descriptions, and show times