Wednesday, February 24, 2021

In HAPPY TIMES, Michael Mayer gleefully excoriates haute-bourgeois Israeli emigres

I've often thought that no one else in the world holds up a mirror to the negative aspects of the Israeli character more than do Israeli filmmakers themselves. Granted these are generally left-leaning artists whose subjects more often than not are the self-satisfied, successful and quite well-off. In the new Israeli film HAPPY TIMES, writer/ director Michael Mayer (Out in the Dark), along with co-writer Guy Ayal, applies those adjectives to as entitled and nasty a group of Israeli emigres as you could find, living in Los Angeles and invited to a dinner party at a Beverly Hills mansion, the hosts of which have clearly obtained their fortune in criminal fashion. It will not take long for you to realize that, whatever happens to these creeps and how really awful this is, you're not going to mind one whit.

Mr. Mayer (shown at left) starts things off somewhat slowly but nastily/ naughtily. Soon enough things heat up and the bizarre bloodletting begins. This is a comedy, albeit one about hypocrites and sleazebags (some obvious, others not so), and as our cast gets "offed," one after another in ways increasingly intricate and sometimes surprising, your laughter won't curdle quite as much as you might expect. (Don't worry -- bit of a spoiler ahead -- if you're anything like TrustMovies, the one character you'll be rooting for the most manages to avoid the crunch.)

The dinner party is made up of the host family (fortunately the kid, below, is soon carted off elsewhere), its relatives and in-laws, plus a friend or two. It takes awhile to decipher just who is who and what this might mean, but stick with it (if you're a fan of this kind of thing) and you'll be rewarded.

Most of the cast members seem new to my purview, but I did immediately recognize the gorgeous Stéfi Celma (below, right) of the delightful Netflix series Call My Agent), as well as Michael Aloni (of Out in the Dark). However, the entire cast seems well-chosen and each delivers the necessary and not-so-nice performance required.

Once the extent of the sleaze and hypocrisy of these folk have been established (for a few of the characters, this takes longer than for others), their comeuppance soon comes up. At 92 minutes, the movie doesn't outstay its "charm," although, according to the IMDB, the original length was 102 minutes, so perhaps the film was shortened a bit for American distribution. 

Whatever: If you're the type of audience who enjoys black humor and creative killings, this is probably a movie for you, especially since the demises grow more clever and inventive, right up to and including the final double whammy. 

From Artsploitation Films and in English and Hebrew, with English subtitles as necessary, the movie hit streaming venues earlier this month and is available to view now. Click here for more information and here for streaming choices.


Cullen95 said...

Hilarious movie. When the rabbi shows up I couldn't stop laughing.

TrustMovies said...

Thanks for commenting, Cullen95, and yes, the rabbi scene is very funny. Glad to know this movie is getting some viewers!