If there is a genre that I have little compunction for it’s the romantic comedy and that is what I thought I was faced with when I heard the title Another Happy Day. Instead I encountered a genre that ranks even lower in my books: the soulless drama. With the explosion of using effects in cinema such as 3D and motion-capture, the less visual appeal a film has these days the more difficult it is to captivate your audience; thus the straight drama is something which is difficult to pull off.
If you are going to pull this off you need a story so captivating or characters so intense that they draw you into their world and completely enthral you. Another Happy Day’s aim is not to step over the white-picket fence, open closed doors and reveal some dark truth – it is to expose family dilemmas and reach a catharsis which enables a sense of relief and acceptance. It aims and then completely misses. On her way to her eldest son’s wedding is Lynn (Ellen Barkin), a high-strung mother with angsty children, a token ex-husband and an aggravating mother of her own.
Every single character you encounter is so self-absorbed and selfish that you feel no sympathy or even interest in what they are doing. It plays out like a soap opera with a script that tries to be profound, but constantly flounders instead. The title is as sarcastic as its characters and it often feels as though the writer ran out of things to say and instead liberally peppered the dialogue with expletives to fill the gaps. If they had refined this point, the film may have not have dragged as much and made me feel less desire to roll my eyes. As it is, the script finds no better way of conveying anger and frustration than an endless spewing of swear words. Watching Barkin’s performance is utterly discomfiting and even more painful are the shouting matches between her and Demi Moore. Bogged down in melodrama there is hardly a single moment that tries to lighten the tone or bring the characters together. There is neither focus nor a through-line and by the end you find yourself with a movie that is just another waste of time.