Let’s be honest in this crazy year of 2020 we could all use a pick me up! Normally I go to the cinemas for such a lift but that is increasingly difficult to do these days. So please let me tell you about a little film that boosted my spirits. My hope is it will do the same for you. It is a delightful little import out of Australia called H is for Happiness.
C is for Cute Candice
In H is for Happiness director John Sheedy tells the story of a quirky 12 year old girl named Candice (Daisy Axon). As our protagonist, Candice has red hair, a best friend from another dimension (or is he?) and a matter-of-fact way of naming things. For example, her rich uncle is called Rich Uncle Brian (Joel Jackson) and her best friend is always referred to as Douglas Benson from Another Dimension (Wesley Patten). Candice’s imagination is also realized in the bright colors all around her. Everything from the costumes to the production design is vivid and full of life.
Q is for Quirky
It’s impossible to not think about Taika Waititi while watching H is for Happiness. His films Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Jojo Rabbit have a very similar sensibility. I also thought about director Wes Anderson especially his film Moonrise Kingdom. Comparisons aside, Sheedy brings his own charm to this film with a lead character that is immensely likable and endearing. He also gets the mixture of humor and darker themes just right. It’s not an easy balance to pull off but he does a great job.
I particularly loved Candice’s interest in country music and her take on one of the genre’s biggest divas (I won’t give it away here) is a riot. Like I said, there are also darker moments involving the state of her parents marriage and the loss of her baby sister to SIDS. All of that is heavy stuff, and it is treated so by the script, but the lighter stuff helps you root for the family to succeed and for Candice to find happiness.
F is for Family Movie Night
H is for Happiness is a terrific movie to watch with a family as part of a family movie night. It has enough whimsy and imagination to entertain younger children while also developing the deeper themes that can facilitate great discussion between parents and older children. I can see many family chats about topics like identity, conflict, forgiveness and even grief. If your kids can handle something like Matilda they should be fine watching this film. It’s a feel good gem of a film for the entire family. You will love it!
Have any of you seen H is for Happiness? If so what did you think? It is available on all the major streaming service for a rental fee.