Thursday, August 19, 2010

Life During Wartime - 3 stars

Todd Solondz makes very interesting and original movies about unhappy people. His movies are never uplifting but there is a kind of black humor to them. I found myself laughing out loud several times here, but usually I was saying WTF at the same time.

This is a sequel to Happiness (1998), but with all different actors. Which is a pretty interesting idea. I wonder if he tried to get the same cast together, how many would have come back? Maybe he figured better to have all different actors rather than some of the same and some different.

This was not as uncomfortable as Happiness was. There is some talk about pedophilia, but the conversations are not as bad as they were the first time around.

The kid toucher from Happiness (now played by Ciaran Hinds) just got out of jail. His young son thinks he is dead, because his mom (Allison Janney) didn't want to tell him the truth. She is dating a nice guy who falls for her way too quickly. Joy is married to a crazy, creepy guy and she keeps seeing the ghost of her former boyfriend (Paul Rubens). Late in the movie she goes to stay with her sister (Ally Sheedy).

It seems every Todd Solondz movie has a young kid who asks way too many questions, and seems very mature for his age. In Storytelling, the kid hates the family maid so much he convinces his dad to fire her. In Happiness, the kid asks his dad all kinds of sexual questions. In this movie, the kid is preparing for his Bar Mitzvah. At one point, his mom tells him in too graphic detail how excited she got when her new boyfriend touched her.

This is a good movie, but definitely not a feel good movie.

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