Happy (2011) (Not Rated)

Roko Belic, in his documentary "Happy", tries to accompany his viewer through a voyage to the inner self to discover the secret to happiness. Using science and personal testimonies, we are led to believe a paraphrasing of one of the Beatles' song: "I don't care too much for money...money can't buy me [happiness]".
The movie begins with Marci Shimoff, the narrator, asking the question: 'what is happiness'. Flashes of billboards and magazines rolls across the screen and it's evident from the start that the target audience of "Happy" is America. Why are Americans consistently not as happy as other countries? Shouldn't we be at the apex of happiness? We seem to have everything lined up for us...so why not?
Newspapers and periodicals have sentences like secrets to a happy marriage and become happier written on the cover—enticing the reader to buy their product.
We have all heard before that money and fame is not the key to happiness. You can have a big home, a nice car, a trophy wife/husband, and still be unhappy.
"Happy" states that %50 of our happiness is dependent on our genetics. We have a zone of happiness that we tend to stay in, no matter if our external circumstances are great or poor. Surprisingly, only %10 of our happiness is dependent on what happens to us in our life. Our jobs, our bank accounts, our relationships—the things that our society emphasizes only generate a tenth of our happiness.
"Happy", smartly, doesn't try to solely focus on America...it travels from Louisiana to Japan to Bhutan to Okinawa and back.
So...what makes people happy? Well, I'll let you see the film and figure that out.
Because it is about happiness, we do spend a great deal of time focusing on bad things. Do traumatic events influence a person's happiness? The film doesn't think so.
Take the story of a woman who was run over by a truck...she's happier now than she's ever been.
Instead of just being an educational movie, "Happy" takes time for humor and emotion. Some scenes are funny and well-edited like the annual gorilla run. People dressing up as gorillas will chase a person dressed as a banana down roads.
Other moments bring the tears like a speaker addressing a middle school, asking them why they are mean to each other.
Happiness is such a popular subject that it's almost impossible to have not already heard all the evidence that "Happy" exhibits. But the film presents it in such a way that it feels fresh.
From physical exercise to meditation to karoshi, "Happy" is a short, sweet, and endearing work.
For such a huge topic, Belic manages to make his film feel intimate and personal...which is rare.
"Happy" is a hidden gem.

Score: 3 stars out of 4

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