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Happy Times - Happy Times( DVD) [Artsploitation Films - 2020]

Happy Times is a large house set dark comedy-come- farce, with moments of blood at points brutal murder 'n' mayhem. The US/ Israeli made picture is certainly well made & classy produced, though tonally it's all over the place, and they are not many relatable/ likeable characters. Here from Artsploitation films is a recent region free DVD release of the film, taking in extended/ cut scenes, and a blooper reel as extras.

Happy Times appeared in 2019, and it was directed/co-written by Michael Mayer, it's  his second feature film after the 2012 Mid-East conflict set gay romantic drama Out In The Dark. And there is no doubt Mayer knows how to film a classy looking production, as Happy Times most certainly is, sadly the film itself left me with rather flat.
 
The film is a mix of subtitled Hebrew, with brief moments of English. It's  set in a large up-scale Hollywood hills mansion, where a Israeli American couple is invited to a dinner party with a group of upwardly mobile ex-pats. From the off there is lots of bickering, snide remarks, and resentment abound- with the first half of the nearing one hour forty film playing like a well-made soapy drama, with moments of dark humour. Then bang we get the first overly brutal & unexpected murder, from here we descend into a blend of farce, mean & nasty killings, and jet-black humour. 
 
The cast are all competent enough actors, and the gore is brutal & well-executed. The main issues with the film- is the rather flabby first half, the sudden & at points unpleasant tonal shifts, and the largely unlikeable characters. Added to this a lot of the humour is leaning into swipes at Judaism and living in the US as a Jewish Israel- which I couldn’t really relate to, and at points felt a little heavy handed. So as result  Happy Times did feel like a chore to get through, with it feeling more like a two hour plus film.
 
On the extras side, we get two cut/ adjusted scenes- these each run around a few minutes. Then we get an around seven-minute blooper reel, and trailer reel for other films put out by Artsploitation films.
 
I do enjoy this type of house-bound set dark-comedy-come-murder fest, but I am afraid Happy Times did little or nothing for me. Sure, it is well made & well enough acted, I just felt the pacing was unbalanced, as are the tonal shifts, and added to this we have the Judaism swiping humour- which largely fell flat with me.

Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5

Roger Batty
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