Happy Here and Now

Critics Consensus

Happy Here and Now has a rich setting and some interesting ideas, but the story frustratingly refuses to spark to life.

48%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 21

41%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 671
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Movie Info

Drawn into a menacing underground world of the New Orleans elite while searching for her missing sister, Muriel (Shalom Harlow), Amelia (Liane Balaban) is aided in her investigation by ex-CIA agent Bill (Clarence Williams III) in this effort from Nadja director Michael Almereyda. Soon discovering mysterious webcam footage on Muriel's laptop computer that will seemingly aid them in finding Amelia's sister, the duo is confronted with shifting identities in a scene where no one is quite who they appear to be on the surface. An obscure and disturbing study in the nature of avatars in the age of technological isolation, Almereyda's haunting drama soon leads Amelia and Bill into a complex web buried deep in the underground of a mysterious and sometimes menacing city.

Cast

Critic Reviews for Happy Here and Now

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (11)

Audience Reviews for Happy Here and Now

  • Jan 30, 2009
    <div style="width:650px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/happy-here-and-now-12024609"><img src="http://content7.flixster.com/photo/12/02/46/12024609_gal.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com">Liane Balaban</a> - <B><I>Happy Here And Now</I></B> </div></div> <i>Happy Here and Now</I> 2002. Written and directed by Michael Almereyda With Clarence Williams III, David Arquette (who co-produced), Ally Sheedy, former super model Shalom Harlow, model Gloria Reuben, Karl Geary and rhythm and blues star Ernie K-Doe. <I>Happy Here and Now</I> is a surrealistic satire in which a young woman tries to find her missing sister by investigating eccentric New Orleans characters who are entangled in a web of cyber-intrigue. This movie is unusual in its story telling structure. It guides us through a netherworld of oddball people, their weird behavior and strange gadgets via a series of vignettes that are ultimately connected. In this quirky odyssey, Canadian actress Liane Balaban plays Amelia. She has come to New Orleans to locate a missing sister who has erased every trace of herself. Clarence Williams III plays a limping ex CIA agent with an unexplained leg wound that just won't heal. Williams forensically dissects the sister's laptop hard drive. He finds traces of cryptic conversations held online with a poetic but sinister misfit (Karl Geary). The stranger uses a special technology to change his real-time appearance and country of origin on webcam-conference. Amelia attempts to determine the presence of a connection between the late night Internet chats and her sister's disappearance. She does so with Thomas' assistance by contacting Greary's puzzling character and conducting a fresh set of webcam conversations. What are his motives, what is he truly capable of? Why does he change his appearance and answer questions with questions? Did this enigmatic stranger lure Amelia's sister to her fate in a snuff film? Amelia must figure out how to trace and outwit him by playing a game of deception online. Throughout her quest for answers, Amelia encounters a cascade of artistic dilettantes. One of several exceptions is the real-life Ernie K-Doe, famous for his 1961 number one hit, "Mother-in -Law," who appears as himself in his actual New Orleans club. Nearly all of the characters are in some way unknowingly interconnected via a subplot orchestrated by David Arquette's character, Eddie Mars. Mars is a creatively misguided, self-employed exterminator who entwines the protagonists via a film project. It is a soft-porn, direct-to-digital Internet film about a time traveling Nicola Tesla. (And there might be some termites and a spherical fire breaking out in a space station, he hasn't decided yet.)) <I><Happy Here and Now</I> is a dream-like atmosphere piece which artfully combines unusual visual and acoustic elements. It highlights a smattering of New Orleans lore and culture. Thomas' character weaves a narrative of local lore as the camera pans by local cemeteries, barbecue joints, The Napoleon House, and a few other unconventional landmarks. We get a nice sample of New Orleans homes and interiors, blues clubs, fauna, and steamy avenues by streetlight. Odd characters such as man wearing Napoleonic clothing wander the streets. The conclusion, while not a blockbuster of revelation, amusingly ties all of the characters and vignettes together. The film is open-ended as to its message. Enthusiasts of movies that conclude with a concrete sense of finality should look to <I>Happy Here and Now</I> as being a piece that is intended to inspire the imagination. The film features musician, performance artist and electronics whiz "Quintron" (Robert Rolston's stage name) as himself. Quintron has distinguished himself in arcane circles for among other things, inventing clever but peculiar electronic musical instruments. One of his Tesla coils is featured in the film. "Strange by even its director's ultra-eccentric standards, <I>Happy Here and Now</I> takes Michael Almereyda's usual reality-blurring, video-mediated experimentation to what the f*** new levels..." -David Ng, <I>The Village Voice</I>, December 6, 2005 MGM DVD.
    Pamela D Super Reviewer
  • Dec 19, 2005
    [font=Century Gothic]"Happy Here and Now" starts out with Amelia(Liane Balaban) venturing to New Orleans to look for her missing sister, Muriel.(At the same time, a firefighter is agonizing over the loss of a fellow firefighter.) Bill(Clarence Williams III), a former CIA Agent, now cab driver, is helping with the search and uncovers a connection to an Eddie Mars who Muriel was communicating via the internet.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic](And what all of this has to do with Nikola Tesla, Blaise Pascal and the price of 7-Up in New Orleans, I have no idea.)[/font] [font=Century Gothic]"Happy Here and Now" begins well and ends up being totally incoherent. Basically the movie wants to be a commentary about not being able to commuicate with our fellow human beings, thus resorting to the company of computers instead. But if you want to chat with people on the internet all day long, be my guest.[/font]
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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