I’ve never been one to plan many things ahead of time. My life is pretty routine, but when I veer off path and do things out of the ordinary, I like for them to be spontaneous. I guess the same can be said for my movie viewing. Every time I try to plan out the next few films I’m going to watch, a new one comes out of nowhere and squeezes its way into said schedule. That is exactly what happened with Michael Mayer’s 2019 film, Happy Times.
A couple invite their friends and family over for a lavish dinner at their Hollywood Hills mansion. The pleasantries don’t last long, however, as alcohol, drugs, jealously, and ego combine to cause an explosion of arguments and, eventually, violence.
I’m sure you guys are sick of hearing this from me, but Happy Times is yet another film that I knew nothing about beforehand. The premise, albeit not all that original, seemed promising enough to entertain me for roughly 90 minutes, so I decided to give it a shot. Luckily for me, things worked out great, as this one is much more entertaining than I could have ever imagined.
Taking place in a beautiful mansion, this Israeli/American comedy starts off innocent enough; Friends and family arrive for dinner with little hints here and there at who is really welcome and who is just invited as part of family tradition. Once the meal begins, arguments erupt about everything from pre-meal blessings and bad plumbing to business and racism. As tempers continue to flare, the disagreements turns to violence. Everything is accidental at first, but that doesn’t last long and the body count quickly piles up.
Happy Times is a perfectly paced black comedy with a steady flow of laughs that lead seamlessly into some pretty great scenes of bloodshed. I did not expect things to get as gruesome as they did, but as the night reaches a boiling point and the true nature of the dinner guests are on full display, jealousy and rage take a firm hold. Everything from fist fights and chokeholds to electrocution, stabbing, and death-by-gunshot all occur, while never losing that sense of humor that was established within the first few minutes of the 93 minute runtime.
Each kill is topped by the next and I never once expected them to happen the way they eventually do. Happy Times is full of practical effects, so no need to worry about shoddy CGI muddying up what really is a fun time from start to finish.
While I recognize a face or two, the majority of the cast was unknown to me prior to pressing play. That didn’t stop me from appreciating each performance, as everyone put on a fantastic show. I enjoyed each actor and actress, whether they played a smug asshole or one of the more “innocent bystanders” to all of the carnage. Most impressive, if I had to choose, would certainly be New York native and former Israeli military sergeant Iris Bahr (“Curb Your Enthusiam”) as Hila and Israeli actress Liraz Chamami as Sigal, the hostess of the night. Their close friendship, not without its own issues of course, was fun to watch implode as events reached their eventual end.
Happy Times at Home
This 2019 horror comedy will officially be available to own on VOD, DVD, and Blu-ray on February 9 from Artsploitation Films. The film is presented in 1080p HD with Hebrew/English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 Dolby Stereo audio tracks and English subtitles.
Special features on the home release include an alternate scene, a deleted scene, and a pretty hilarious blooper reel, as well as trailers for other Artsploitation titles.
Happy Times is pretty damn entertaining from beginning to end with a steady flow of humor and violence, both in equal measure. There are no weak links in the cast and the special effects are gruesomely realistic.
Give this film a watch for yourself as I give it 4.5 kiln ovens out of 5.