Satirical Jewish Horror Comedy

Happy Times is an outrageously pitch-black comedy from Michael Mayer (Out In The Dark) that marries ethnic humor with bloody conflict. A dinner party at a posh Hollywood mansion falls into chaos when lingering resentments between the guests explode into an orgy of violence. Hosted by a Israeli-American couple serving their extended family and friends, the over-the-top indie comedy is mostly in Hebrew.

The wealthy Yossi and his wife Sigal have invited friends and family over for a dinner at their lavish mansion in L.A. Sigal has invited her cousin Michael (Michael Aloni), an annoying small-time actor that almost immediately starts causing problems. He’s not religious and rubs Yossi the wrong way. Michael brings along his American girlfriend Aliyah, who clearly feels out of place at a dinner with everyone else speaking Hebrew. What starts out as a friendly family dinner soon gets heated with almost everyone looking to cause trouble.

Happy Times is an outrageously pitch-black comedy… that marries ethnic humor with bloody conflict

Mayer’s ensemble satire is at its best developing each character with wit and realistic conflicts. The dinner quickly becomes a battle of egos and deep-seated resentments slowly bubbling to the surface, often with hilarious results. Everyone can relate to the dinner from hell. The momentum and engagement holds up for the first two acts without a hitch. Laughs are had poking fun at traditions within the Israeli community. There’s a nice sense of pacing to the story beats.

The problem in Happy Times comes when the dark comedy veers uncontrollably into violent murder without much thought, leading to a very predictable final act. There is no one you can really root for as the guests start tearing each other apart and the death spiral begins. The dark sense of humor remains as the movie becomes excessively violent. No one may survive the nightmarish gathering.

Happy Times is a so-so horror comedy in any language, though its characters are fairly memorable with a funny cast carrying the humor. Each actor in the cast brings something different to the table.

Video

Happy Times has a bright, digitally clean aesthetic that vividly shows off the impressive mansion which serves as the setting. The 2.39:1 presentation exudes razor-sharp clarity and outstanding definition. Running 92 minutes, Artsploitation limits the movie to a BD-25. There is a touch of banding in the middling AVC encode. Otherwise it’s a flawless technical 1080P presentation from impeccable source material.

The digital cinematography’s sterile, over-driven video certainly doesn’t lack in detail. This is a glossy, high-impact presentation more suited for television news than a darkly comedic film.

Audio

The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio does a serviceable job with crisp reproduction of the dialogue, which is mostly in Hebrew with a smattering of English. Surround cues create a realistic sense of space and balance across the soundstage. This isn’t a flashy mix but Happy Times has decent dynamics with stout sound design.

Two subtitle options are offered and I’d recommend using English SDH for anyone that doesn’t speak Hebrew. Plain English subtitles are an option for Hebrew-only dialogue, but there isn’t that much English dialogue to begin with in the movie. Both play in a rare pink font inside the scope presentation at all times. 2.0 Dolby Digital in stereo is a secondary audio choice.

Extras

Artsploitation digs up a few small special features for Mayer’s blood-soaked comedy and a couple trailers from their overall line.

Scene 26: Alternate Cut (01:24 in HD)

Scene 32: Deleted (00:51 in HD)

Blooper Reel (07:35 in HD)

Beasts Clawing At Straws Trailer (01:11 in HD)

The Dead Ones Trailer (01:19 in HD)

Red Christmas Trailer (02:13 in HD)

An Exquisite Meal Trailer (01:10 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Happy Times
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

The pitch-black horror comedy’s unknown indie cast saves the day in this violent farce about a dinner party gone wrong.

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5 (1 vote)

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