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HAPPY ENDINGS

With its post-ironic use of Billy Joel songs, its Pop-Up Video approach to screenwriting via overexplanatory intertitles, and its modish desire to induce cringing, Happy Endings is feel-good shamesploitation for people who found American Beauty too corrosive. Writer/director Don Roos, who tried to define The Opposite of Sex in 1998, deploys a game cast led by Lisa Kudrow and Steve Coogan as semi-estranged half-siblings adrift in contemporary Los Angeles. Three stories about couples intertwine in a complicated but pat way; the single-and-half entendre of a title is perfect for a movie too clever by about 45 percent. And though adoption, sperm donation, and the mania for personal documentary are timely subjects, this is life as itís lived on cable television. Still, fans of big-screen romance will not want to miss the bedroom clinches of Maggie Gyllenhaal and Tom Arnold, this yearís most unlikely movie couple.

BY A.S. HAMRAH

Issue Date: July 15 - 21, 2005
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