Universal acclaim - based on 34 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 240 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: Just how hard is it to be happy? Poppy is an irrepressibly free-spirited school teacher who brings an infectious laugh and an unsinkable sense of optimism to every situation she encounters, offering us a touching, truthful and deeply life-affirming exploration of one of the most mysterious and often the most elusive of all human qualities: happiness. Poppy's ability to maintain her perspective is tested as the story begins and her commuter bike is stolen. However, she enthusiastically signs up for driving lessons with Scott, who turns out to be her nemesis – a fuming, uptight cynic. As the tension of their weekly lessons builds, Poppy encounters even more challenges to her positive state of mind: a fiery flamenco instructor, her bitter pregnant sister, a troubled homeless man and a young bully in her class, not to mention that she has also thrown out her back. How this affects not only Poppy's world view but also the outlook of those around her begs the question "glass half full or half empty"? (Miramax) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. 100
    This is Mike Leigh's funniest film since "Life Is Sweet" (1991). Of course he hasn't ever made a completely funny film, and Happy-Go-Lucky has scenes that are not funny, not at all.
  2. I thought "Topsy-Turvy" was perfection, a spirited evocation of the partnership of Gilbert and Sullivan, plus a blithely definitive depiction of the artistic process. Happy-Go-Lucky is perfection too, assuming you go along with its leisurely pace, which I did quite happily.
  3. Mr. Leigh has never been an artist for whom happy (word or idea) has been an easy fit. Life is sweet, as the title of another of his films puts it with a heart-swelling yes, but it’s also an eternal fight against doom and gloom, the soul-crushing no.
  4. Reviewed by: Jenni Miller
    Sally Hawkins offers an Oscar-worthy performance as Poppy, the funny, kind-hearted, and mischievous protagonist.
  5. As is always the case with Leigh's protagonists, Poppy does not fit into a schematic log line, she simply is. She exists with an intensity that few other filmmakers' characters can manage because of the singular way Leigh creates his people.
  6. As surprising as it is delicious with an indelible performance by new star Sally Hawkins.
  7. Reviewed by: Josh Rosenblatt
    That's the film's problem: Leigh's creation is fixed and unchangeable, admirably optimistic as a person but completely unengaging as a movie character.

See all 34 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 68
  2. Negative: 30 out of 68
  1. SarahK
    Mar 17, 2009
    This movie is a gem. How often do we see a movie that actually examines the real-life risks of leading a happy life, and whether happiness itself makes it worth it? Also, the acting is extraordinary. Expand
  2. Joseph
    Dec 12, 2008
    Glad to see that this film got several Golden Globe nominations. Can't believe some of the scores and comments about this film. I guess most people are so used to being spoon fed the story and plot that when they actually have to think it is beyond them. Well, at least the Golden Globes got it right!!! Expand
  3. DanielR
    Dec 22, 2008
    A delightful, charming little movie. Hawkins' performance is miraculous. How this movie can't make you happy is beyond me.
  4. Feb 2, 2013
    the main reason i find this movie inadequate is the same reason it got made in the first place. because the main character is always optimistic. i find that in most of those cases, it makes her naive and shallow. and it's trying to prove the point that constant cheeriness is a positive factor. all the rest in the movie is adequate. i find the driving instructor to be a very competent character, even though the movie tried to paint him as the character we're supposed to frown at. but i guess it gets a 5 because i have some sort of inner hatred against giggling women. Expand
  5. MC
    Nov 21, 2008
    As we were walking out of the theatre, another couple stopped us and asked what we thought of the film. We answered that we hadn't really enjoyed it, and they sighed relieved saying "After we read the reviews, we thought we were missing something because we really didn't enjoy it." At the end of the film, you felt like you hadn't gotten anything from it; none of the characters had changed or learned, there was no narrative to be advanced, and you hadn't really learned much. It was like a two hour long Seinfeld episode where most of the humor was traded away for a small slice of artificial bubbliness. Expand
  6. Happy-Go-LuckyStorm
    Dec 28, 2008
    After seeing that this film received a rating of "universal acclaim," I expected it would be a buoyant tonic to the holidays. But no, it's a long, aggravating affair, with an inane and irritating main character and the equally irritating and vapid people who comprise her circle of friends, relatives, and professional (?) associates. Poppy dresses like a cheap hooker and has the depth of a three year old. We are supposed to love her for her cockeyed optimism, but she comes across as an optimistic idiot who wanders into seriously dangerous neighborhoods for no apparent reason, bounces on a trampoline, lives in chaos, and has a double-digit IQ at best. Expand
  7. MarianB
    Nov 3, 2008
    I was severely disappointed by this film because the trailer seemed so promising. In fact I didn't think a film could actually cause me physical pain (a terrible headache) nor make me think vicious thoughts about the characters. This awful film did exactly that. The script was absolutely unconvincing in its optimistism or at its attempts at portraying realisitic London life (the cabbie for instance was to be pitied for his road rage because of Poppy). Unfortunately also it fulfilled tired stereotypes (white working class cabbie hates black boys, dabbles in conspiracy theories). A new angle would have been appreciated. The romance was forced (the social worker & Poppy exchanging numbers straight after just trying to get the audience to sympathise with an abused child.) Not professional or cute. The attempts to make the audience think that Poppy had some profound insight/kinship with the downtrodden (e.g. the homeless man) was pathetic because there was not a light of understanding between the two, just left with the mad ramblings of a cold and hungry man. The other characters lives (e.g. sister, flatmate, colleagues) were uninteresting and badly acted. The whole film seemed very black and white with everyone enraged with the world (not explained why) and Poppy 'happy' unconvingly. Irritating to the point of knased teeth. Avoid at all cost. I am sorry I rented it. Life affirming films have been done a whole lot better by some seriously good actors with thumpingly good scripts e.g. Audrey Hepburn etc. Indulge in those. Expand

See all 68 User Reviews