Universal acclaim - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
Watch On
  1. 100
    Weaving many interconnected plot lines and more than a dozen lives together, this gifted writer-director has fashioned a bleak, brilliant comedy about loneliness, lovelessness, and alienation--a film that constantly upends our assumptions about what is heartbreaking, what is hilarious, and what is both.
  2. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Unnerving because it forces us into uncharted waters: Solondz doesn't tell us how to feel but makes us thrash out our responses for ourselves. In doing so, he has made one of the few indelible movies of the year.
  3. Reviewed by: Dave Kehr
  4. Reviewed by: Ron Wells
    Take the safety off of the comedy Magnum called Happiness and put the barrel in your mouth. You'll laugh your ass off as it takes off the back of your head...It could be the best film of the year. At the very least, I'll never forget it.
  5. Like David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, and Paul Thomas Anderson, Solondz revels in ironic pop passion. It's a signature moment when he transforms Air Supply's "All Out of Love" into a geek-love rhapsody.
  6. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    Tragic, funny and deadpan dark, it's easily one of the best films of the year...It's the brutally unsentimental, intelligent, unflinching heart at the film's core that makes it a marvel.
  7. 100
    It is not a film for most people. It is certainly for adults only. But it shows Todd Solondz as a filmmaker who deserves attention, who hears the unhappiness in the air and seeks its sources.
  8. 100
    One of the most troubling views of the human race I've seen in years. Luckily for us, its depressing, almost pathologically ironic vision is redeemed by the sublimity of Solondz' filmmaking. I first saw the film at Cannes last May and it's haunted me, both for its nastiness and its brilliance, ever since.
  9. Reviewed by: Jonathan Lethem
    A masterpiece.
  10. 90
    Thoroughly realized characters and relationships and Solondz's masterful ability to switch the tone from comic to tragic within the same scene help make Happiness a better film than it might have been otherwise. Much better, in fact.
  11. Part of this success is due to the exquisitely cast ensemble-composed of actors, not movie stars. To a man, woman and child, the unforced performers are spot-on.
  12. Happiness very quickly displays finesse and control, colored by a nearly exultant glee. [9 Nov 1998]
  13. It has taken only two films, "Welcome to the Dollhouse" and now Happiness, for Todd Solondz to establish his as one of the most lacerating, funny and distinctive voices in American film.
  14. Reviewed by: David Denby
    A brilliant, disturbing, but unstable and half-crazy piece of work.
  15. Corrosively funny yet emotionally devastating.
  16. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    One of the most challenging movies in years.
  17. Sharp, funny, sad and daring as it may be, Happiness is missing something. Its points are often too obvious, its shocks too juvenile. It's impressive but not transcendent. [23 Oct 1998]
  18. 88
    Where Happiness shines, however, is in the series of extraordinary performances given by the members of the diverse ensemble cast. Leading the group is Dylan Baker, whose turn as Bill is astounding.
  19. 80
    If Hollywood were truly devoted to telling it like it is, Baker would win a special Oscar. To add to the creepiness, Solondz is (as he made clear in Dollhouse) an extremely sensitive director of kids.
  20. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    [Solondz's] blistering, brilliantly transgressive satire is sure to rattle even the most jaded filmgoer. It's also a remarkably compassionate profile of American life at its most desperate.
  21. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    An aching roundelay, a triumphantly benumbed ensemble farce that mingles condescension and compassion in a manner that's disarmingly--and often upsettingly--original.
  22. The aftertaste of that father-son scene is so strong, so disturbing, that the riches of Happiness -- its writing, its performances, its trenchant wit -- all seem a bit diminished in the bargain.
  23. The movie's intentions are as serious and thoughtful as its content is timely and sometimes horrifying. For adventurous viewers only.
  24. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Baker does an amazingly sensitive job with the ticklish part and is joined in this by Read, who is superlative as his inquisitive young son.
  25. It lacks Altman's wisdom, but its sense of humor is corrosive, if dispiriting, and its willingness to show the human animal at his most disgusting has a kind of anti-grandeur to it.
  26. Solondz's greatest success is the pederast, heartbreakingly played by Baker...Had Solondz reached that apex in the other stories, it would have been a masterpiece.
  27. Everyone who likes this movie calls it "disturbing," but what disturbs me most is the self-loathing laughter it provokes, similar to what one often hears at Woody Allen and Michael Moore comedies.
  28. It's not the subject matter itself that's offensive -- pedophilia is as worthy a topic of investigation as any other. Instead, it's the subject's non-treatment -- we don't learn a thing that rings true.
  29. 50
    There's nothing new about this sado-cinema, and nothing much worthy, either.
  30. Solondz's filmmaking style tries to make a virtue out of flatness and distance, and is always more comfortable indicating where feelings would go than actually providing them.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 71 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 22
  2. Negative: 5 out of 22
  1. Apr 13, 2011
    Amazing ! I have never in my life seen a movie where pretty much every single scene was disgusting, depressive, and repulsing. Why would aAmazing ! I have never in my life seen a movie where pretty much every single scene was disgusting, depressive, and repulsing. Why would a filmmaker make this movie ? What is the message ? What should the audience get out of it ? It simply shows the worst of people, in a ridiculously exaggerated way...
    Try assuming that everyone is great, and capable of great things, for a change !
    Full Review »
  2. Feb 27, 2012
    Supposedly absurdist and very clever, but to me just seemed a monotonous, overly-lengthy, sordid mess with pointlessly dysfunctional 2DSupposedly absurdist and very clever, but to me just seemed a monotonous, overly-lengthy, sordid mess with pointlessly dysfunctional 2D characters. Wantonly repulsive and depressing: a black comedy without the comedy. Abysmal. Full Review »
  3. JoshC
    Nov 20, 2006
    Masterfull! Todd Solondz for president.