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Welcome to Happiness 

Wednesday, May 18 2016
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Oliver Thompson's Welcome to Happiness pins the needle on the Quirk-O-Meter, but it mostly works in a way that other quasi-mystical yet hella-twee indie films featuring Nick Offerman in a supporting role (c.f. Somebody Up There Likes Me) don't. Woody (Kyle Gallner) is a creatively blocked children's-book writer who rents an apartment from landlord Moses (Offerman, yay!) with the understanding that every so often, sad strangers will appear at his front door. After a brief ritual, those strangers will go through a much smaller door in his closet, which Woody is told will allow them to undo a mistake from their past. Welcome to Happiness has a strong supporting cast that includes Paget Brewster, Keegan-Michael Key, and Josh Brener, and while Thompson's fondness for long single takes often grinds the pace to a halt — particularly in Brener's subplot — it's nice to see a director who remembers that cameras can zoom.For such a sensitive picture, however, it fails the Bechdel test: The three main female characters are little more than caricatures (sexy girlfriend, shrewish authority figure, and flouncy eye candy) who only relate to the men, and the film's final 20 seconds are undeserved at best. On the other hand, Welcome to Happiness is awash in cats and cat imagery, and kitties make everything better.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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