REVIEW: Happy Times (2019)

dir. Michael Mayer

Michael Mayer’s second feature comes from the robust subgenre of a dinner party gone wrong. A group of ‘friends’ join together for a meal in a swanky house in the middle of LA, where long standing resentments and simmering tension give way to explosive outbursts of violence.

The roster of characters are suitably repellent – the ensemble playing their parts with gusto – which can make the first half a bit of a chore, but once it’s established that everyone hates each other the expected violence erupts in gloriously gruesome set pieces.

Mayer and Guy Ayal’s script is at its best when their repugnant collective are unleashed with some fun quippy dialogue: although – regrettably – there are a number of instances of old-fashioned gender tropes which feel more represented than deconstructed.

And this is perhaps the aspect that prevents the film from being more than harmless fun. There’s probably not a wider point being made here (except how terrible we all really are, and how we’re all capable of letting out our inner psycho), so it may be best to try and just sit back and enjoy the chaos: turn your brain off and – as the title promises – have a happy time.

⭐⭐⭐

Russell Bailey

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