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Welcome to Happiness

Welcome to Happiness

Apr. 27, 2015 USA108 Min.PG-13
Your rating: 0
8.9 1,804 votes

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Synopsis

There’s a magical door in Woody’s closet that allows those who go through it to erase mistakes from their past. When he finds out where it goes, his life will be changed forever.

Original titleWelcome to Happiness
IMDb Rating6.3 278 votes
TMDb Rating4.3 2 votes

(3) comments

  • mockfilmsblogMay 20, 2016Reply

    An sweetly odd tale.

    So many of life’s lessons can be attributed to children’s literature.
    Authors from Dr. Seuss to Shel Silverstein shaped the way young minds
    perceived the world and prepared them for what lie ahead. Welcome To
    Happiness, the debut film from writer/director Oliver Thompson, spins a
    fanatical tale in a similar vein. Aimed at the grown-ups we’ve ripened
    into, this clever comedy draws upon the ”whys” we inevitably ask
    ourselves as we press on through to adulthood.

    Dropping the viewer directly into the world he built, Thomson keeps a
    close rein on the goings on and rules set forth by his script, only
    answering so much before adding on more mysteries. The opening scene
    sets the tone of the film, quirky and playful yet not lacking real raw
    emotion…

  • subxerogravityMay 25, 2016Reply

    This movie was so stellar, just one of the best narrative movies ever.

    It was a strangle inventive ride, and at the end I was moved and felt
    like I learned something.

    Welcome to Happiness is about a children’s book writer who lives in an
    interesting apartment. Once in a while, his 1990s printer would go off
    and a stranger would knock on his door. He would ask the strangers
    three questions from the printout and if they answered correctly he
    would lead them to happiness, which the door to happens to be in his
    bedroom closet, but after 5 years when this guy discovers that
    happiness is a place in which you can change the one big regret in your
    life, he becomes disgruntled with the fact that he wasn’t given the
    opportunity to change his one regret.

    The movie puts me on a very emotional ride. I relate to the lead
    character Woody, played by Kyle Gallner. It was a great experience.
    Kinda like the Matrix, but more down to Earth without the Sci-fi and
    the Kung fu. It’s not a coincidence that Woody is a Children’s book
    Arthur as the movie dishes out the life lesson it that same poise, only
    it’s for adults.

    It was a brilliant narrative from beginning to end. The first act I was
    digging but then it got to a point where I did not like the message the
    movie was generating, then kaboom! The whole thing was laid out in
    front of me and I felt it. I can’t remember when the last time a movie
    blew my mind like that.

    Plus Keegan-Michael Key is so amusing in his role. This guy is just so
    entertaining without even trying.

    Recommend trying this movie out. I’m not really the type to be
    enlighten, but It did spark something in me.

  • Stu Robinson ([email protected])July 17, 2016Reply

    One’s Own Outlook Will Color ‘Welcome to Happiness

    I didn’t attend the Phoenix Film Festival screening of Welcome to
    Happiness for the subject matter. I went because the cast includes two
    of my favorite actresses: Olivia Thirlby (The Wackness, Juno and The
    Wedding Ringer) and Molly C. Quinn, the daughter on ABC’s Castle.

    Then there was the reference in the synopsis to ”a mysterious door in
    his closet that only allows certain people to enter.” For me, that
    evoked images of Being John Malkovich.

    So I really didn’t see it coming when the film turned out to address a
    question with which I’ve struggled most of my life: Just what is
    ”happiness”? See, I’m one of those folks who has trouble simply ”being”
    in the moment; there always seems to be something more out there. It’s
    an inability to be confident and satisfied in myself, my
    accomplishments, my health, my relationships and whatnot.

    A Curious Setting

    That doesn’t seem to be a problem, at least initially, for Woody Ward
    (Kyle Gallner from American Sniper), who lives in an unusual apartment
    the walls of which are adorned with curious murals.

    Residence in the unit comes with a responsibility. Periodically, the
    silence is shattered by the clattering of a 1980s-era printer in the
    hallway – followed quickly by a stranger knocking on the door. Woody
    must verify the visitor’s identity with information from the printer,
    guide him or her into the closet with the mysterious door and then
    leave the person to await admittance. Like the old Black Flag Roach
    Motel ads, guests check in but they don’t check out.

    Woody has lived there for years and hasn’t seemed to mind the ritual,
    but there are signs that it’s starting to wear thin:

    — He tells one guest, Leah, that not everybody (i.e., him) gets to
    pass through the door. — Following a meet cute with neighbor Trudy
    (Thirlby) at the mailbox, their initial date is interrupted by the
    printer and someone at the door. — He encounters Leah on the street –
    the first time he’s ever seen someone again after he or she went
    through the door – and she intimates that whatever is on the other side
    offers the chance to right some wrong in the past. This particularly
    rankles Woody, whose parents were killed by a drunk driver.

    Despite the awkward ending to the first date, Trudy is smitten by
    Woody’s ingenuousness and the fact that he makes his living writing
    children’s books. But it isn’t happily ever after; Woody has writer’s
    block and is under pressure from his agent, Priscilla (Paget Brewster
    from TV’s Criminal Minds).

    Then there is his growing resentment that he somehow isn’t worthy of
    passing through the door. It comes to a head when Woody tells Trudy and
    her friend Farrah (Chauntal Lewis) about the door. Determined to prove
    it in the face of their skepticism, he badgers Farrah, who had lost a
    hand in a car accident, into trying the door in the hope she might be
    able to alter the past. But as we’ve seen with Woody himself, he
    doesn’t get to decide who passes through. His misbegotten effort simply
    alienates Trudy and Farrah.

    The Other Side

    Unlike Woody, the audience gets to see life on both sides of the door.

    Pulling the strings on the other, Oz-like side is the eccentric Proctor
    (Keegan-Michael Key of Key and Peele), helped by his quirky assistant,
    Lillian (Quinn). This side is supposed to be ”happiness,” a surreal
    setting of brightly colored buildings amid landscape that looks a lot
    like the Arizona desert. From there, Proctor and Lillian engineer a
    subplot in which they manipulate two characters with a dark connection
    from the past.

    The only character who acts in both worlds is Woody’s landlord, Moses
    (Nick Offerman from Parks and Recreation), who is privy to the
    apartment’s special qualities. Moses’ presence is measured and calming,
    compared with Offerman’s comedy roles.

    Quinn, too, plays against her TV persona. Colorful and quirky, yet
    almost hypnotic in her movements, Lillian is the opposite of Alexis on
    Castle.

    Welcome to Happiness offers an interesting take on what it means to be
    worthy. It also tries to illustrate happiness, but falls short. Behind
    all of the color and kookiness are the usual clichés about the grass
    always being greener on the other side and appreciating your life as it
    is.

    That said, the film’s approach to those issues is original and creative
    – which works because the acting is superb. The characters of Woody,
    Lillian and Proctor (as well as the two portrayed in the subplot by
    Josh Brener of TV’s Silicon Valley and Brendan Sexton III of The
    Killing) are richly drawn, and the ways in which the actors bring them
    to life a key to capturing the audience. It wasn’t surprising, then,
    that Welcome to Happiness won Phoenix Film Festival’s award for Best
    Acting Ensemble.

    What doesn’t work is a sharp New Age, Kumbayba-type turn near the end.
    What to that point is a nuanced portrayal of individuals runs smack
    into a big group of people embracing in unison some sort of common
    belief in solidarity against the real world – represented moments
    earlier by Trudy and Priscilla, clad in black, trying to yank Woody
    back to his reality. It just doesn’t fit.

    Still, Welcome to Happiness offers many of the qualities integral to an
    independent film that seeks to avoid the tropes of the genre.

    ###

    Stu Robinson practices writing, editing, media relations and social
    media through his business, Phoenix-based Lightbulb Communications.

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