“The Happys” is the too-cute nickname that local landlord Luann (Janeane Garofalo) dubs her Los Feliz neighborhood. It’s also the title of co-writer/director team Tom Gould and John Serpe’s feature directorial debut, a cutesy classic Hollywood tale adapted for modern times, about small-town dreamers who move to Los Angeles with stars in their eyes.
Tracy (Amanda Bauer) and Mark (Jack DePew) are just two Wisconsin kids chasing Mark’s dream of becoming a movie star, and Tracy’s dream of becoming Mark’s picture-perfect wife. That Stepford fantasy is upset when Tracy walks in on Mark and another man. In order to prove herself to everyone back home, she white-knuckles it and persuades him to continue with their partnership. Tracy seems to think if she can just cook him enough meals, he’ll be the loving (straight) husband she imagined.
But it’s all just a fantasy built on a tower of scrambled eggs and pretzel buns. Unhappy and bored, Tracy explores her neighborhood and ingratiates herself to her neighbors — the reclusive Sebastian (Rhys Ward), a flirty food truck operator Ricky (Arturo del Puerto), and unofficial mayor Luann.
The outlook of “The Happys” is reflected in its title — even when things are dark, Tracy maintains her sunny outlook. It might be a bit too spit-varnished shiny, but her happiness is hard-won.
Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Noho 7, North Hollywood