I'm a pretty passionate guy. I am the only person I know who has actually gotten into a fistfight over whether Miller Lite tastes great or is less-filling (I think the shit tastes like piss water, but I agree that it is less-filling). I have hugged complete strangers for the expert way they drove the go-karts up off of I-25. I have spent entire nights debating whether ants have consciences, and these debates have always ended up being brawls about whether Miller Lite tastes great or is less-filling. So, you can see, I'm the kind of guy who has an opinion on just about everything. Strangely, though, I don't think much about "Happy, Texas," a light as cotton panties comedy.
It's not because I didn't want to have an opinion, and I wasn't drunk. "Happy, Texas" just sort of floats long for almost two hours (a little too long), and then it disappears, from the screen and from the mind. I hated the really shitty country music and classic rock on the soundtrack, and I loved William Macy's performance as the town sheriff, but those were the only bits that stood out.
On a work detail, three prisoners escape. Two, Jeremy Northam and Steve Zahn, steal the motorhome of two pageant producers at a grocery store and end up in the town of Happy, where they are mistaken for the pageant producing vehicle owners, a gay couple. To avoid being caught as escaped convicts and to get at the huge pile of cash in the local bank, the two willingly pretend they are the gay producers.
Zahn is in charge of actually producing the pageant and so he has to shape some little girls into Texas beauty queens. Northam plots the bank job, falls in love with the banker (Ally Walker), and the sheriff (Macy) falls in love with him. The third escapee, a vicious killer, reunites with our reluctant heroes when he decides he too wants to rob the bank, and zany mayhem ensues.
"Happy, Texas" just farts along, telling the story exactly as you would expect. There are no twists or turns that you aren't prepared for. It's all as completely inoffensive as one of Mrs. Filthy's cabbage roll casseroles. And it ends with one of Hollywood's dopey and unnecessary car chases. Don't get me wrong, I love a fucking awesome car chase, where shit blows up and cars go crashing into trash cans, but this one is tacked on, like the makers thought they needed a BIG ending. They try to pump you up after the rest of the movie works so hard to put you to sleep.
Macy is perfect as the gay small-town sheriff. It is really refreshing to see a homosexual portrayed not as a bitchy, prissy drag queen with a corn cob up his ass, but instead as a real person who is neither a genius nor an idiot. And, it's a role that could easily have been overdone as either redneck or fruitcake. I got the feeling Macy actually cared about his sheriff. As always, Macy fits into the cast without trying to show-off.
But, the "Happy, Texas" proves once and for all that Jeremy Northam is no more a leading man than me or Gary Coleman. He's got the charisma of a three-cheeseburger lunch. It's not to say he isn't serviceable, because he is. But, he's boring and he always has this annoying stubble, like he's been hanging out with Rico and Tubbs on Miami-fucking-Vice. Steve Zahn is all right as the wacky dumb guy, but as usual, there is only so much you can do with the stock oddball character. The scenes that are supposed to make us fall out of our chair and piss our pants while nursing our bruised asses don't happen. When they are there, they just feel as flat as Ally Walker's chest. Plus, the writers make him stupid one minute and smart the next, depending on what's needed. Speaking of Walker, her character is a little too undercooked. I think we've all seen the tougher-than-you-think rural beauty enough already. She's got a heart of gold, big fucking surprise.
I wonder, why is it so hard to create hot looking chick characters who also are more than two-dimensional? Or, if the moviemaker is going to make them two-dimensional, they should at least show us their tits.
The main problem here, though, is the lazy script turns on some contrived points. The love story between Northam and the Walker is never believable, just the way the story was written. We are expected to accept that these former criminals are no longer interested in robbing the bank because they have either found love or loved working with kids. But, if I am any indication of what someone with half-a-brain in his head thinks like, then I smelled bullshit. Plus, major parts of the story are just plain missing. We never see the much of the kiddie pageant or nearly enough of Zahn training those little fucking brats to believe that he does whip them into shape.
Mark Illsley also makes the grave mistake of making a broad, obvious comedy without including the broad, obvious jokes.
Three Fingers for "Happy, Texas," which is
about two more than I would give the actual state.