Just over two years ago, b_b told me that his good friend was putting together a movie, and that he would be investing in it. That sounded like great fun, and a short time after, I sat down with b_b and his friend Oliver.
I was quickly won over by Oliver's passion, and by the fact that we has not a talker, but a doer. I joined b_b as a small time investor.
Here we are three years later, and Oliver Thompson's Welcome to Happiness hits theaters today. Here are the theaters it is playing at:
Los Angeles, CA – Laemmle NoHo 7
New York, NY – Cinema Village
Denver, CO – Kress Cinema and Lounge
Atlanta, GA – Plaza Theater
Seattle-Tacoma, WA – Dragonfly Cinema
San Francisco, CA – Roxie
Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX – The Texas Theater
Milwaukee, WI – The Times Cinema
Philadelphia, PA – Roxy
Columbus, OH – Gateway Film Center
The film is also being released on most VoD services.
I saw the film at the Oklahoma City deadCENTER Film festival last year, where it won Best Narrative Feature.
I've read some of the early reviews, and they are mixed in a way that I suspected they would be. TBH I am biased, but IMO thus far, the negative reviewers are missing something. The film is not cynical, although one might expect that is where it would be going. I won't give anything away, but what I like about WTH is that it doesn't exercise the tired self-conscious irony of caricature-like characters that has been the dramedy de jour for so long. They are real people in a quirky world (Well, at least those characters that are real people).
It is a movie that is unguardedly sincere, but not stupidly rose-colored. There is a Prayer for Owen Meany type thing going on in WTH, and personally, I found it both effective and disturbing. IMO this is the point.
I saw some of the audience member's responses to the film, and it was clear to me that if you think there is intrinsic meaning in the universe, WTH is going to rub your coat in the right direction. Some people were clearly moved by this message. However, if you don't think the universe comes with meaning, WTH is going to rub against your grain, and if this leaves you unwilling to examine the work outside of that message, it will diminish your overall opinion of the film.
For this reason, I expect that WTH will do better with audiences than with critics. Critics have a hard time when confronted with sincerity that is not cut with irony, or sadness of a humanitarian scope. If I were the distributor, I would have hit the Midwest as hard as possible.
Oliver is a talented, thoughtful, and hard-working guy, and I expect he is going to create an interesting body of work.
If you see the movie, let me know your thoughts.
Also, look for Kyle Gallner picking up Oliva Thirlby while sporting a Hubski t-shirt. Apparently, it helps.
I cannot wait to see this.