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Unstreamable, The Scarecrow Wire

HAPPINESS is Unstreamable!

Posted January 31st 2024
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Allen in all his pathetic glory.

It’s Unstreamable! Where Jas Keimig and Chase Burns recommend movies and TV shows you can't watch on major streaming services in the United States. We post on Wednesdays unless we’re tired or busy 😊

We’re so stoked to announce the very first Unstreamable screening of 2024 and it’s a twisted one—our friends at Grand Illusion Cinema are putting on Todd Solondz’s Happiness on 35 mm from February 9-14. We’ll be on deck to introduce the first screening on February 9 at 7 pm. Come watch with us! And don’t forget to reserve your seat

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USA, 1998, 134 min, Dir. Todd Solondz


There is a mass shooting dream sequence not even twenty minutes into Happiness and it is, by far, the least offensive thing to happen in its two-hour runtime. Directed by Todd Solondz—the fucked up and brilliant mind behind Welcome to the Dollhouse—this film deals with incest, pedophilia, genital mutilation, murder, sexual assault, fucking-without-feelings, puberty, depression, suicide, gayness, infidelity, domestic abuse, scabs, the mechanics of masturbation, and cum. Though sometimes hard to watch, Solondz makes it work. There's no pretentious posturing or pontificating. Rather, he sets these perilous emotions in extremely dull settings, like the wasteland of suburban New Jersey or a sad apartment building.

His characters—including the always great Jane Adams as the aimless and dissatisfied Joy and the sexually dysfunctional and grotesque Allen, played to perfection by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman—are so blisteringly banal, so obscenely regular, that their inappropriate and frightening emotions make sense. The world of Happiness is a bit off-kilter, which creates distance between you and the film. But if you look closer, you might get a glimpse of your own pathetic desires and contradictions.

After the indie success of Welcome to the Dollhouse, Solondz recently told Variety he challenged himself to write a script as unproduceable as possible and only October Films signed on to finance. When Happiness premiered at Cannes it generated tons of controversy, was refused from Sundance, and eventually dropped from October’s release slate (apparently their parent company Seagram had an issue with the pedophilia storyline). In 1998, the film was picked up and distributed by Good Machine who ended up merging with Focus Features in 2002, so perhaps Happiness got lost in the mix. While it did have a DVD release which has since gone out of print, 35 mm format is currently the best way to view this film. Over the past two decades, it picked up a cult following with movie nerds even creating petitions to get a cut in HD. Comedy this dark deserves a dignified home release.

Find it in the Directors section under Solondz, Todd or rent it by mail.

Looking for more? Browse our big list of 350+ hard-to-find movies over on The Stranger.

*The fine print: Unstreamable means we couldn’t find it on Netflix, Hulu, Shudder, Disney+, or any of the other hundreds of streaming services available in the United States. We also couldn’t find it available for rent or purchase through platforms like Prime Video or iTunes. We don’t consider films on sites that interrupt with commercial breaks, like Tubi, to be streamable. Tubi is like Neu Cable. And yes, we know you can find many things online illegally, but we don’t consider user-generated videos, like unauthorized YouTube uploads, to be streamable.