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Escaped jail birds - small time crims - Harry Sawyer (Jeremy Northam) and Wayne Wayne Wayne Jnr (Steve Zahn) are on the run; they steal a trailer that changes their lives. It belongs to the Ziegfried & Roy of pageants - David and Steven (Tim Bagley & Michel Hitchcock), who are expected in the town of Happy, Texas to coach the littlies of the Little Miss Fresh Squeezed beauty pageant. Josephine McLintock (Ally Walker) runs the local bank and Ms Schaefer (Illeana Douglas) is in charge of the little girls for the pageant. Neither women saw these guys coming, nor did happy, Texas. Sheriff Chappy least of all.

Review by Louise Keller:
Steve Zahn has one of those goofy faces that just makes me fall apart; his outstanding comedic turn in Happy, Texas - an absurd, wacky frolic - is an absolute treat. Together with heartthrob Jeremy Northam, he is the tonic you need to have a jolly good laugh. Zahn's car-thief Wayne Wayne Wayne Jnr (now there's a name to move those facial muscles!) is a man with few skills of articulation and a greasy hair problem. Northam's credit-card conman easily seduces, with Northam showing his versatility by falling very comfortably into this straight man role after his successes in period pieces such as An Ideal Husband and The Winslow Boy.

Mark Illsley's clever, witty caper is full of surprises; we think it's going in one direction, but it swerves and hits sharp corners without warning. He entices us into a laid-back world of country hicks, where the local colour is vivid, the pace well under the speed limit. But we laugh with the characters, never at them; we genuinely care for them and delight in their misadventures.

From issues of sexuality, training little girls for pageant success and illegal banking business, you get more than you've bargained for - every time. From the opening lunacy to the middle-of-the-road romantic comedy development, Happy, Texas is one of those films that will have you grinning ear to ear throughout. Nothing goes to plan, everyone is confused - especially sexually - and William H. Macy does a great turn as the Sheriff in the closet.

The set up is irresistible, the execution delicious. It's good-humoured and very, very funny. What more can I say to recommend it? Cry a little, laugh a lot, Happy, Texas is just the ticket.

Published February 21, 2008

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(US, 1999)

CAST: Jeremy Northam, Steve Zahn, William H. Macy, Ally Walker, Illeana Douglas, M.C.Gainey, Ron Perlman, Tim Bagley, Michael Hitchcock, Paul Dooley

PRODUCER: Mark Illsley, Rick Montgomery, Ed Stone

DIRECTOR: Mark Illsley

SCRIPT: Mark Illsley, Phil Reeves

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bruce Douglas Johnson

EDITOR: Norman Buckley

MUSIC: Peter Harris


RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 13, 2000

PRESENTATION: widescreen



DVD RELEASE: January 23, 2008

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