Happy Endings

6. Happy Endings (2005) [Rated R for sexual content, language and some drug use.]

summary from imdb.com:

Happy Endings weaves multiple stories to create a witty look at love, family and the sheer unpredictablity of life itself.

directed by: Don Roos

starring: Lisa Kudrow, Steve Coogan, Jesse Bradford, Bobby Cannavale, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Ritter, Tom Arnold, Sarah Clarke, Laura Dern, Johnny Galecki, Peter Horton

Conservo-Libertarian Reviews:
movieguide.org Christian reviews

A Trailer

Abortion/Life Content:

[written on screen: Four months later. Charley’s father, Mamie’s mother. Charley tells them the big news.]

Mamie’s mother: Pregnant? Pregnant?! Get your bony ####### a## out of this car! What the hell is the matter with you?! What the #### were you…

[written on screen: Abortion Day. Off to Phoenix. Charley will stay behind.]

Mamie at 17, Hallee Hirsh: I gotta go.

Eric Jungmann: Wait… Wear this when they do it. It’s–it’s good luck.

Mamie’s mother: Mamie? Who’s in there?

Hirsh: No one, Mom. I’m on the phone.

Mother: Charles is waiting in the car, so hurry up.

Mamie: OK, I’m coming.

Mother: I’ve got your blue bag.

Mamie to Jungmann: I only did it to get out of this house. OK?

Jungmann: No, you didn’t.

Mamie’s mother: Mamie! It’s time to go!

[written on screen: Mamie is like Javier. They get paid to make people feel better.]

Girl: But it– it already has a face, right? A face and a personality?

Mamie/Lisa Kudrow: It has more of a head than a face at this stage. And a personality? I don’t–Not a personality. I don’t think you could say that.

Girl: No one’s giving me any advice.

Kudrow: I’m not here for advice. I’m here to listen. I can’t tell you what to do.

Girl: That’s great. That’s helpful.

Kudrow: I had one when I was your age.

Girl: And were you sorry after? I mean, does it bother you? I’m Catholic.

Kudrow: I shouldn’t have told you that. And I’m Jewish, so… I shouldn’t have told you that, either.

Girl: Will you be here tomorrow? It’s tomorrow at 10:00 if I decide.

Kudrow: Tomorrow? No. No, but there will be someone for you… Janet, if you want to talk afterwards.

Girl: Yeah. I’m gonna do it.

Kudrow: OK.

Girl: I’m not maternal, either.

Lisa Kudrow: I don’t need to see my son. I was going to have an abortion, in fact… until someone talked me out it.

Jesse Bradford: If you don’t care, then why’d you keep updating the adoption agency… with your addresses? There’s four of them in the file.

Kudrow: He has the information. He can contact me if he wants to.

Lisa Kudrow: Just give me a minute, OK?

Maggie Gyllenhaal: That’s OK. You can leave it open.

Lisa: Yeah?

Maggie: I don’t even know why I’m here. I have already made up my mind.

Lisa: It’s just something we do here… Jude. Or is it Judy?

Maggie: Jude.

Lisa: OK.

Maggie: I want the abortion.

Lisa: Do you want to tell me why?

Maggie: Well, I’m marrying somebody… and… I want to start out with a clean slate.

Lisa: This is not his child?

Maggie: It probably is. If it isn’t, it’s his son’s.

Lisa: Are you serious?

Maggie: Yeah, and then, if we have more kids… their brother or sister could be their cousin or… You see how it could get?

Lisa: Yeah. Do your partners know of your pregnancy?

Maggie: No.

Lisa: Do you have any feelings about your baby?

Maggie: You’re not supposed to say “baby”. You’re supposed to say “pregnancy” or “fetus”. I’m pretty sure about that.

Lisa: It’s important to you not to call it a baby.

Maggie: Mm-hmm. But that’s because you’re gonna rip it out of me… and flush it away. Are you pro-life? Will you sign my form?

Lisa: I’m just asking questions. I’m pro-choice, of course. But my opinions aren’t important here.

Maggie: Well, then, I’d shut up about them. I think we’re done. I have an appointment for tomorrow at 10:00.

Lisa: I don’t want you to misunderstand. I think everything is a much bigger decision than we think. And this one– this is the biggest. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I don’t even know what to ask you.

Maggie: You’re a little ###### up, aren’t you? You gotta be better at this most days.

Lisa: This is about average. Here you go.

Maggie: Thanks.

Lisa: I’m not pro-life, though.

Maggie: Who is, once you start paying attention?

[Maggie Gyllenhaal drives to abortion clinic with angry protesters banging on her car:]

[Maggie lies down and says “I’m ready.”]


from an interview with director Don Roos at The New York Theatre Wire:

NYTW: “To birth or not to birth” is a repeating theme in this film. Sperms banks and abortions or giving up a child for adoption all play a part in Happy Endings. Were you planning from the beginning to comment on these matters?

DR: It never occurred to me that it would be controversial. I never thought of the film as pro-life or pro-choice. I just think like the Lisa Kudrow character, who says that “Everything is a much bigger decision than we think.”

The consequence of sex for straight people at least, the possibility of the bringing on of a new consciousness onto the planet, is a huge, huge consequence of a moment of pleasure. So this is a consequential decision. The decision to abort or have a child is a big one. [Add] the decision to have unsafe sex, and those are all big, big decisions. I don’t think they’re controversial. I just think everybody has an opinion about them, and they should. Everyone should have an opinion about things that are so important.

from AboutFilm.com:

Is writer/director Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex) too self-referentially post-modern for his own good? That won’t leave you very happy at the end of Happy Endings, if that’s the prevailing question you take home with you from the theater. It probably will be, too, because although the three story lines touch on some of the most controversial issues of today (homosexuality, abortion), they won’t induce you to shake your fist at the sky or wonder What It All Means. In brief, those story lines are:

* A young would-be documentarian, Nicky (Jesse Bradford), won’t tell Mamie (Lisa Kudrow) where the son she gave up for adoption is, unless she agrees to let him film the reunion.
* Charley (Steve Coogan) decides that a lesbian couple (Laura Dern and Sarah Clarke) have used his boyfriend’s sperm to father their child after claiming the donation didn’t work, and becomes obsessed with exposing them.
* A gold-digger named Jude (Maggie Gyllenhaal) falls for her mark (Tom Arnold) after seducing his homosexual son (Jason Ritter).

Some loose connective relationships between the three storylines and a common theme of parenthood—each of the three protagonists has somehow failed to be a parent or might fail to become one, leaving each of them feeling somewhat empty—compose the film’s unifying elements. What makes Happy Endings a Roos film is its dark, frank humor, its unusual characters, and its distinctive voice. What will make or break the film in the eyes of its audience is Roos’s voiceover technique.

from a Lisa Kudrow interview at “The Cinema Source”:

In the new film, Happy Endings, Lisa Kudrow plays a woman named Maimee who gave up her child for adoption eighteen years ago, after everyone assumed she had had an abortion. Now, a filmmaker is blackmailing her to try to get into AFI by filming her reunion with her long lost son. Maimee isn’t so cooperative and uses her massage therapist boyfriend to trick the filmmaker into giving her the information she wants about her son without the emotional train-wreck that the intended meeting would undoubtedly be. In this film though, nothing goes as planned and no character goes unscathed.


Maimee, Kudrow’s character, is now working at an abortion clinic. When the topic of a woman’s right to choose comes to the forefront Kudrow gets a little skittish, but answers the question.

‘It’s such a huge personal issue. How do you legislate it’ I just don’t know.’

Up next for Kudrow is a mixture of independent and mainstream projects, but she realizes Happy Endings is a rarity to be enjoyed.

“Another abortion comedy” from GetReligion.org:

Comedy and abortion rarely mix in film — Alexander Payne tried it with Citizen Ruth in 1996 — but director Don Roos (pictured) now adds his film Happy Endings to the list. (Laura Dern of Citizen Ruth is in the cast.)

In case abortion didn’t make the film edgy enough, it also includes a sexual encounter between stepsiblings, a gay semen donor wondering whether his contribution has benefited lesbian friends and a woman seducing both a young gay man and then his heterosexual father.

On perhaps the most volatile note, Lisa Kudrow depicts a young woman who chooses not to abort but to give her son up for adoption.

Roos and his partner, actor and producer Dan Bucatinsky, have adopted a child, and Roos said in an interview Tuesday on NPR’s Fresh Air that this has affected his thinking about abortion.

“My politics changed a lot, in a way, when I became a father, because I depend upon young women and young men choosing not to abort. All my life I’ve been a right-to-choose kind of guy, but secretly hoping that there were girls who thought it was wrong,” he told Terry Gross.

“We were hoping to find a girl who thought abortion was wrong and yet gay parents were a fabulous idea — so it’s a very narrow group,” he added, prompting one of Gross’ knowing chuckles…

from a commenter at pro-Life Jill Stanek’s site:

Lisa Kudrow’s character lies about having an abortion when she really gave her child up for an adoption 20 years ago. She works as at an abortion clinic as a counselor.

A pregnant girl comes to stay with her gay brother, which drives the plot.

Maggie Gyllenhall is sleeping with both a father and a son and gets pregnant and comes to see Lisa Kudrows character to get an abortion.

At the end Lisa Kudrow says something along the lines of “are you sure you don’t want this baby” and Maggie Gyllenhall responds “you’re not supposed to say that, what are you pro-life?”

Lisa Kudrow responds “no, no I’m not pro-life…” but it’s obvious her feelings about abortion have changed.

Maggie Gyllenhall’s response is “who is?”

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One Response to Happy Endings

  1. Pingback: Welcome | Abortion in Film

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