I’m giving Happy-Go-Lucky one star on the silly, controversial rating scale and tossing my hands in the air. It is a ridiculous film. My not being fond of British humor, nor glorified stupidity, Happy-Go-Lucky lacks any sort of appeal and meanders on for two hours.
The story revolves around Poppy, a childish and slap-happy 30 year-old woman who refuses to live life soberly and tries to make the best out of everything she encounters. However, there are many people around her who don’t exactly live life to the fullest, including her cranky driving instructor and heated ballet instructor. Even when encountering these deadbeats and her own life issues, Poppy maintains to embrace life like gold.
Though Sally Hawkins gives an enthusiastic performance, her character Poppy is naïve, arrogant, and overly-enthusiastic, leaving viewers more or less bothered by her headstrong antics. Her character proves that watching someone routinely happy becomes simultaneously irksome and depressing. Unfunny, overrated, and entirely random, director Mike Leigh’s moderately improvised tale of Poppy is unbearably aggravating and one of the most over-promoted films of 2008.
Nominated for an Oscar for best writing, the only thing I found worth celebrating here are the rolling of the credits once the film ends. It feels like and looks like a mess, unable to please those not fond of British banter.
This British comedy is something that one must acquire a taste for. While others may find it to be intelligent and quick-witted, most of the humor struck me as half-baked, and solely based on adolescent behavior. If there is a meaning, I missed out on it. Sure the character Poppy is admirably optimistic, but that's not a message (at least delivered this way) to carry the film's runtime. It becomes exhausting and leaves one with the impression that it could be enjoyable in very small doses, likely working better as a comedy sketch rather than a full-length feature film.
Mike Leigh gives Sally Hawkins the green light to let loose and improvise the majority of the time. It’s too bad that her skills at improvising might not appeal to those who find her character Poppy to be exasperating. Happy-Go-Lucky becomes a fatigue-inducing two hour moment in British cinema. One accompanied by a half-witted and repugnant character whose only desire is to be exceedingly blissful and entirely disruptive.
Included in the bonus features are an audio commentary by Mike Leigh; "Happy-In-Character," which explores the film's characters in depth and detail; and "Behind The Wheel Of Happy-Go-Lucky," which explores the ability to correctly and accurately display camera angles in a miniature car.
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