It’s obvious to me that the documentary Happy Endings was a labor of love on the part of director/producer Tara Hurley and editor Nick Marcoux. According to the commentary on the disk, Hurley and Marcoux labored for four years to produce this baby. But no matter how much parents love their offspring that doesn’t mean that their offspring is beautiful. And just like in real life, I’ve seen my share of unattractive babies.
Happy Endings focuses on the Korean massage parlors in Providence, Rhode Island. This documentary makes it very clear that anyone who lives in Rhode Island knows that these parlors are fronts for prostitution. The core of Happy Endings is a series of interviews with the mayor of Providence, the women who work in the parlors, a customer, some legislators, lawyers, social activists, and two employees of the local newspaper. Because of a loophole in the state's laws, prostitution is illegal outside a building or on the street but is legal inside a building. The obvious presence of legal prostitution has polarized the citizens of Rhode Island.
The first problem I have with Happy Endings is the audio. The music overpowers and mixes with the speech of the people being interviewed so it’s very difficult to hear what these people are saying. I couldn’t turn up the volume because then the music volume would also go up. So, I had to listen and listen again to catch some of the words. And there were times when there was no music, and the sound levels were too low. So, I spent a lot of my viewing time turning the volume up and down. And at a couple of points in the documentary, my stereo switched modes from mono to stereo and then back again. It appears that Timothy O’Keefe was responsible for the sound, but I don’t know how much blame he deserves if he had to work with bad recordings to begin with.