Arts & Entertainment

Learn How To Be 'Happy'


Reel Reviews
Movie: Learn How To Be “Happy”
January 14, 2013
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Henry David Thoreau once said, “Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it will comes and sit softly on your shoulder.”

For the majority of people, when asked what they want most in life their answer is to be happy. Obviously, what constitutes as ‘happy’ is subjective, but it is an ideal that most people aspire to achieve. So, what makes the idea of being happy so alluring and why do people spend so much time and energy in search of it?

In the documentary “Happy,” narrated by Marci Shimoff, filmmakers set out to find what makes people happy and why this emotion is valued so highly.

The film interviews people from a variety of backgrounds, from a craw fisher in Louisiana and a divorced single mother in Denmark to a group of elderly in Okinawa and a rickshaw driver in India, to discuss the various sources and influences of happiness. “Happy” also interviews leading scientists and psychologists in the field of happiness research, which only really began to be taken seriously in the 1990’s, to ascertain the biological and neurological reasons that people crave to be happy. The documentary weaves real life stories and scientific research together in an attempt to discover and unlock the secrets of being happy.

Clocking in at a scant hour and fifteen minutes, “Happy” is an easily watchable and understandable documentary. The interviews are engaging, laidback and often fun, although the film does not shy away from the darker side of not having happiness in one’s life and how the drive of competition and the forced need for economic growth can impact happiness and become a dangerous thing to mental and physical health. The film does a decent job of mixing lighter and darker moments, stories and information throughout, so it never feels overwhelmingly depressing or uplifting at any given time. The pacing of the film is appropriate and does not drag in the slightest, while the scenery of each different locale are all displayed well; the contrasts of many of them are interesting to view. Overall, the documentary is a brief yet intriguing look at the internal and external elements that drive people to find what makes them happy and why.

And, honestly, who doesn’t want be happy?    

“Happy” runs 75 minutes and is not rated. It is available on Netflix Instant.

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