Not Another Happy Ending

| January 4, 2014

The seventh law of Doctor Who Fandom states that when a former cast member of the sci-fi series goes on to do a new movie or television series, the fan will watch.  This was basically my only reason for volunteering to review Not Another Happy Ending, which stars Karen Gillan as Jane, a young novelist who has just made a deal to have her first novel published.  Her publisher, Tom (Stanley Weber) is a handsome Frenchman with a lot of notes for Jane’s revision and the two hit it off right away as they work to get Jane’s book ready for publication.  This is until Tom has the audacity to change Jane’s title from “The Endless Anguish of My Father” to “Happy Ending.”  This betrayal causes a rift the two leads and suddenly the audience finds themselves at the beginning of every romantic comedy ever made, and probably has a pretty good idea of how it’s going to end.  The film does try to subvert the audience’s expectations throughout with the use of red herrings, misdirects, and complications, but mostly the film follows a very typical and boring romcom structure.

I wasn’t expecting to see Ian De Caestecker show up as Tom’s assistant.  I’ve recently become a big fan of Caestecker from his work on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is part of the massively popular and successful Marvel Cinematic Universe.  He really emerges as the reason to watch this film, with a lot of great lines that are perfectly delivered.  It was also nice to see Gary Lewis (Gangs of New York) have a substantial role as Jane’s father.  I could have easily sat through a movie about him coming back into Jane’s life and bonding with her after not being around for so many years.

Unfortunately, the film has no idea what it wants to be.  At one level, it’s a standard romantic comedy, but gets complicated by subplots of Jane’s father showing up, and the screenwriter adapting “Happy Ending” into a movie falling in love with her.  While Jane works on her second book, she begins getting haunted by her protagonist Darcy (Amy Manson), which would have been ok (though still an overused technique) if it were established at the beginning of the film.  Having Darcy show up roughly a half hour in feels too out of place and disrupts the rules of the film.  At another point in the movie, Karen Gillan is writing nude.  Apparently this is a technique to help her be productive but it feels hackneyed and thrown in just to get people to watch.  And I will quell your curiosity in case you think you might want to sit through the film just to see Gillan naked.  All you see is her butt, and the sides of her breasts.  And like I said, she’s writing so it’s not a sexy scene whatsoever, but rather just used as a prop to get a laugh.

In the end, while I loved what Karen Gillan brought to the table in Doctor Who and her dynamic with co-stars Matt Smith and Arthur Darvill, I think I have to admit that she’s simply not a very good actress, or just naïve when it comes to choosing projects.  Her recent horror movie doesn’t appeal to me and the sitcom she has coming out looks like a disaster.  I think the elders of Doctor Who fandom may need to rethink some of the rules.

Not Another Happy Ending arrives on DVD on January 6, 2014 from Omnibus Entertainment and includes a behind-the-scenes featurette and an interview with director John McKay.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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