Projections - Movie Reviews

Happy, Texas

Happy, Texas is the best surprise of the year.  Filmed in only twenty six days, this is a small film sensation, filled with delightful humor and warm endearing characters.

Two escaped prisoners, Harry Sawyer (Jeremy Northam) and Wayne Wayne Wayne Jr. (Steve Zahn) evade the law in a beat-up Winnebago.  To stay free they must impersonate the two owners of the RV, who are gay beauty pageant producers that have been hired to run the Little Miss Squeezed Pageant, in Happy, Texas.

The townspeople have failed to qualify for the pageant for the past quarter century; they believe they have hired pros - in reality they have hired cons.  Wayne and Harry learn quickly that the local bank is ripe for the picking and the town's two most eligible women, schoolteacher Miss Schaefer (Illeana Douglas) and the town's banker Josephine McClintock (Ally Walker) are interested in the excitement the new guys bring to town.  William H. Macy as Sheriff Chappy Dent again shows his skill at creating moods of sympathy for his off beat character.  Everyone in Happy does and says things for the pageant they never dreamed of doing.

Wayne Wayne Wayne Jr. has the toughest job, teaching the contestants how to perform for a contest which he has never seen the likes of, but Zahn's Wayne has the most fun.  Each of the characters are changed during the pageant week.  The inept escapees warm up to the town and everyone in town falls in love with Wayne's work and Harry's good looks.  The two cons bring life to the quiet desert community.

The success of the film comes in the witty script and the situations which arise when women and men believe the two strangers are a gay couple.  Women want to treat them like girl friends and certain men want them as lovers.  No one is an ugly character, each has needs which are brought to the surface and the most moving scene involves a gay man mourning when he believes he has been rejected after a night of dancing.

This is a simple enjoyable farce.  It's easy to understand why Steve Zahn was awarded a Special Jury Prize for Comedic Performance at the Sundance Film Festival.

Happy, Texas will leave you laughing.

Happy, Texas


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