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Don Roos ' Happy Endings : Sundance opener

HAPPY ENDINGS shares the story of a young woman who is being blackmailed for having a baby eighting years ago that she thought no one knew about.. The blackmailer just happens to be a filmmaker who wants the money to attend American Film Insitute and further his craft. The film weaves together facets of three stories into one as the chacters blend the trials and tribulations of each of their lives. Roos has the capability to play back story telling in film with intelligence and purpose.

A Film by Don Roos Starring Tom Arnold, Jesse Bradford, Bobby Cannavale, Sarah Clarke, Steve Coogan, Laura Dern, Lisa Kudrow,Jason Ritter,David Sutcliffe,and
Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Mamie is being blackmailed. This filmmaker named Nicky claims to know Mamie’s son – the one she gave up for adoption – but Nicky won’t introduce her to him unless he can film their reunion. Enter Javier, Mamie’s massage therapist boyfriend, who convinces Nicky to film him instead. Now they’re all making a movie about massage. And ‘happy endings’…

Charley has a longtime boyfriend named Gil. Their best friends, Pam and Diane, once tried using Gil as a sperm donor. They said his sperm didn’t take, but Charley thinks those control-freak lesbians are lying. Pam and Diane’s two-year-old son looks exactly like Gil. And it’s time to set the record straight…

Jude is pissed. Not at anyone in particular. Just in general. When her cousin kicks her out of the house, Jude shacks up with Otis, who’s still trying to convince his father, Frank, that he’s straight. Frank’s a widower. And he’s rich. So Jude decides to sleep with him, too. Really. The last thing she expected was to fall in love…

Just when you thought you knew everything about love and dysfunction, along comes HAPPY ENDINGS, Lions Gate Films’ hilarious and heartfelt new comedy by writer/director Don Roos (THE OPPOSITE OF SEX, BOUNCE). Featuring a talented ensemble cast that includes Tom Arnold, Jesse Bradford, Bobby Cannavale, Sarah Clarke, Steve Coogan, Laura Dern, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lisa Kudrow, Jason Ritter and David Sutcliffe, HAPPY ENDINGS deftly weaves together multiple stories to create a sharp, witty look at love, family and the sheer unpredictability of life itself. A feast of buried secrets, missed opportunities and welcome second chances, this wildly original comedy proves that the happiest ending of all is the one you least expect.

In a Don Roos universe, people often do the wrong thing first. His characters lie, manipulate others and give in to lesser impulses; yet their genuine desire for love and acceptance always makes them appealingly human. It is this idiosyncratic blend of edginess and heart that has won Roos, the writer/director of THE OPPOSITE OF SEX and BOUNCE, such a fervent following. With HAPPY ENDINGS, his latest writing/directing effort, he continues to explore the many guises of dysfunction, spinning a funny, unpredictable ensemble story that examines deceit – and love – at play in a variety of relationships.
“Most of the time people cover up their vulnerabilities and their weaknesses and what they really want out of life,” says Roos. “Nobody wants to look weak. So most of my stories are about people trying not to look weak.”
“What I always respond to with a Don Roos script is his characters are just so damaged,” says Lisa Kudrow, who plays Mamie, an emotionally scarred woman who gave up a child for adoption as a teenager. “They don’t even have the first clue about where the damage is or what to do to heal it or fix it. So they just go out of their way to spin it into something else.”
Indeed, audiences accustomed to the faultless protagonists of typical Hollywood films will no doubt be surprised by Roos’s characters’ behavior. Laura Dern, who is no stranger to portraying challenging heroines in films like CITIZEN RUTH, believes Roos’s frankness is precisely what makes HAPPY ENDINGS so successful. “The best comedies are the ones that are honest. That’s where the humor comes from,” says the actress, who plays Pam, a lesbian who is raising a two-year-old son with her lover. “Given that the movie does deal with tolerance and broadening our concepts of honesty, family, friendship, it takes irreverence and also pretty brutal honesty to get to what we need to get to within ourselves.”

The script for HAPPY ENDINGS was born out of Roos’s interest in a simple premise: the relationship between a step-brother and a step-sister. “I thought that relationship was an interesting one. So that’s what it started from,” says the writer/director. “Then I asked myself a lot of questions and gradually the world started to build, like putting a grain of sand in an oyster.”
When Roos had finished his script, his modest concept had developed into three distinct story lines with a cast of ten principal characters, all carefully interwoven. The stories are diverse: a woman blackmailed by an aspiring filmmaker; two gay couples in conflict over patrimony rights to a child; a trio consisting of a father, his gay son, and the free-spirited young woman who seduces them both. As disparate as they may be, these full-bodied characters are all unified by their common need and search for love.
“Love is the prime motivating factor for everyone in the film. They’re all seeking love or seeking to love someone,” says Roos. “It’s true in my life, so I assume it’s true in everybody’s life. That’s the kind of ego I have. If it’s true for me, it’s true for you.”
And where there is love, there is usually sex. While not an overtly sexual film, each of the varied plots in HAPPY ENDINGS deals in some manner with the emotional consequences of sex, as well as the politics of procreation. “To me, sex is a really incredible, big part of a person’s life,” says Roos. “And I think the creation of a baby, the creation of another consciousness in the universe, is a huge thing. In the movie, Lisa says to Maggie that everything is a much bigger deal than we think. And that’s basically my idea about sex. It’s bigger than we think it is.”

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