Entertainment » Movies

The Happy Sad

by Kilian Melloy
Sunday Oct 6, 2013
A scene from ’The Happy Sad’
A scene from ’The Happy Sad’  

"Dramedy" is the only word that fits Rodney Evans' slice of 20-something life in New York City. "The Happy Sad," based on screenwriter Ken Urban's own stage play, plays it straight... so to speak... but the material is essentially comic.

Part farce, part 21st century "Bob & Carole & Ted & Alice," this film follows the mixed-up sexploits of about a half-dozen young people as they wend their ways into and out of one another's orbits (and beds). Things start off with Annie (Sorel Carradine) informing her boyfriend of six months, Stan (Cameron Scoggins), that she needs to take "a break." Pressed by a hurt Stan to name a name (he's convinced she must be leaving him for someone else), Annie blurts out, "Mandy."

Most straight guys would respond with, "That is totally hot," but Stan declares he's done with her and storms off. No surprise, perhaps, that Stan later fetches up on a gay chat site and, from there, in the arms of Marcus (Leroy McClain), who is doing a little experimenting of his own: Marcus and his partner of six years, Aaron (Charlie Barnett) have agreed to give an open relationship a test drive. Their one and only rule: Don't fall in love with anybody else. That's a rule that's certain to be broken six ways from Sunday before the end of the week, and, sure enough, Marcus starts to pine for Stan right after their first assignation.

Meantime, Annie has tentatively revealed to Mandy (Maria Dizzia) that Stan now believes the two of them to be an item. The disclosure proves enough to spark a romance, but it's a wavering and uncertain flame: Mandy is on Zoloft, her father is in the grip of a debilitating infection, and her mother, unhinged by this medical crisis, has taken to singing the treacly text of greeting cards.

Round and round it all goes, with dizzying speed and invention. You'd feel like telling these kids to snap out of it if the film didn't give you such narrative vertigo, but that's half the fun. (The other half is in marveling at the way the script's Woody Allen-esque one-liners are presented with perfect, if loopy, sincerity.) This charming, daft movie can't easily be categorized, but that's fine: The cast is so game, and so adorable, you want to follow them wherever they might be going.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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