Happy Tears

Happy Tears

Director: Mitchell Lichtenstein, Demi Moore, Parker Posey, Rip Torn

Cast: Mitchell Lichtenstein, Demi Moore, Parker Posey, Rip Torn

Teeth director Michael Lichtenstein takes a sharp turn from teen-oriented satire to mature family drama with this semi-autobiographical story concerning a pair of grown-up sisters who return to their family home in order to care for their ailing father. Jayne (Parker Posey) and Laura (Demi Moore) have


Teeth director Michael Lichtenstein takes a sharp turn from teen-oriented satire to mature family drama with this semi-autobiographical story concerning a pair of grown-up sisters who return to their family home in order to care for their ailing father. Jayne (Parker Posey) and Laura (Demi Moore) have long since moved out of their family home when they discover that their father's (Rip Torn) health has taken a turn for the worse. Returning to Pittsburgh in order to care for their slowly degenerating dad, the sisters quickly realize that their father is in total denial about his condition. Jayne has been shielded from the harsher side of life since she was just a little girl, and now as Laura begins pushing her sister to accept their bleak reality, their father takes a seedy lover (Ellen Barkin), who immediately rubs the girls the wrong way. But dealing with the father becomes the least of Jayne's and Laura's worries when the drama in their personal lives drags the demons of their past up to the surface and out into the open.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
At one point in the film Happy Tears, Jayne, the main character, is struggling to explain the value and meaning of her dead father-in-law's blotchy abstract art, until she finally concedes, "You have to know something about other art in order to appreciate it." Similarly, it might help to know something about other films in order to digest this vibrant, sloppy smear of film kitsch, which revels in gaudy dream sequences and absurd plot twists, adding considerable whimsy to what should be a grim depiction of premature dementia. Writer/director Mitchell Lichtenstein manages to invoke the cinematic specter of camp with a touch just light enough to justify the film's artificial characters, disjointed script, conventional surrealism, and ridiculous special effects. The film follows two sisters, the aforementioned Jayne, played by Parker Posey, and Laura, played by Demi Moore, who are forced to take care of their father, Joe (Rip Torn), when he begins losing control of his mind (and his bowels) because of a rare brain disorder. Jayne prefers to deal with this miserable situation by escaping into flights of fantasy, which are vividly depicted in hallucinatory sequences, while Laura is more of a realist, though she still indulges in the occasional joint. Initially, Jayne's visions seem odd and discomfiting to the narrative, but eventually the story accumulates enough absurdity that it becomes nearly impossible to tell which side of Jayne's skull the action is taking place in. As Joe's condition deteriorates, the truth about his philandering past emerges, while Jayne begins to fear that her husband may also be losing his mind. Luckily, Jayne's own descent into familial insanity is buffeted by a series of events with little or no connection to any possible reality, including an insanely profitable yard sale and a tryst with a strapping neighborhood lad who comes in from the rain and dutifully strips off his shirt. Like they say, one person's trash is another person's treasure, and comedy is when tragedy happens to someone else. Mitchell Lichtenstein and company do their best to reassure the audience that these tragic events are not even happening to someone else -- they're happening in Movieland, a magical place where all your problems eventually resolve themselves and there might even be a fortune buried right in your own backyard. Part of the pleasure of the film comes from knowing something about the personal lives of the actors. When Demi Moore's character gripes about "the kids, my job, no money," it's tough to keep a straight face, and anyone who thinks that Rip Torn's "performance" as a demented drunk is particularly authentic can just Google his name to see that he's probably not acting. Also, any viewers who felt nauseous during The Blair Witch Project should close their eyes whenever Ellen Barkin comes onscreen, because her turn as a twitching, filthy crackhead is palpably uncomfortable to watch. If you're looking for a stirring family drama or a conventional zany comedy, then this film is basically trash. But if you don't know what you're looking for, you might just find something to treasure in Happy Tears.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Lions Gate
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; Audio commentary with writer/director Mitchell Lichtenstein; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Demi Moore Laura
Parker Posey Jayne
Rip Torn Joe
Ellen Barkin Shelly
Christian Camargo Jackson
Billy Magnussen Ray
Sebastian Roche Laurent
Roger Rees Antiques Dealer
Susan Blommaert Mallory (Mother)
Victor Slezak Eli Bell
Patti D'Arbanville Joe's Nurse
Celia Weston Neighbor

Technical Credits
Mitchell Lichtenstein Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Paul Avery Production Designer
Kerry Barden Casting
Stacey Battat Costumes/Costume Designer
Timothy J. Debaets Executive Producer
Gregory Elias Executive Producer
Jonathan Gray Executive Producer
Jamie Anderson Cinematographer
Joe Landauer Editor
Richard Blue Lormand Associate Producer
Robert Miller Score Composer
Joyce Pierpoline Producer
Paul Schnee Casting

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Happy Tears
1. The Fog Is Lifting [6:21]
2. Remember [8:08]
3. I'm Fine [8:53]
4. 360 Degrees [6:07]
5. Shelly [7:23]
6. Buried Treasure [12:17]
7. The One Thing [5:40]
8. A Happy Place [6:21]
9. Better Than Sufficient [7:20]
10. Mothers and Dogs [14:55]
11. Maybe She Didn't [7:44]
12. A Canister of Tea [4:30]


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