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HAPPY ENDINGS

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n Don Roos' teeny-tiny Los Angeles, a dozen-plus characters intersect -- nearly each involved in a self-serving scheme that employs deception at the expense of another player. Among the ensemble cast are abortion counselor Lisa Kudrow (had secret baby); wild child Maggie Gyllenhaal, who doesn't really love the sadly sweet Tom Arnold; blackmailer and videographer Jesse Bradford; and a kid who has two gay moms and two gay dads (maybe). Various subterfuges propel these threads (and others), but Roos, with made a kicky debut in 1998 with another black comedy/drama The Opposite of Sex, makes Happy too artificially contrived and surface-oriented. There's some sly humor and nice performances (Gyllenhaal's callous boho may lack motivation, but she's electric on screen). But other than showing us he can rig up a complicated story with lots of right-wing hot-buttons and hugs of resolution, Roos' film lacks a solid undercarriage and true heart. (AH)

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