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Happy, Texas

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Welcome to Happy, Texas. You'll leave smiling...

When two prison escapees - the mismatched pair of fraud offender Harry Sawyer (Jeremy Northam) and petty car thief Wayne Wayne Wayne Junior (Steve Zahn) arrive in the small Texan town of Happy in their getaway mobile home, they are mistaken for pageant masters brought in to coach the town's entrants in the district Little Miss Fresh-squeezed pre-teen beauty pageant.

Realising that this could provide an unexpected safe-haven from their fugitive status, the two reluctantly adopt the personae of the gay pageant gurus and set about weaving their particular brand of magic with the local kids. Of course, keeping up the act complicates their relationships with the small town's women and men, in particular Sheriff Chappy Dent (William H Macy), pageant co-ordinator Miss Schaefer (Illeana Douglas) and bank owner Jo McClintock (Ally Walker).

I saw four films last week: two romantic comedies about straight guys pretending to be gay in order to do their job then falling in love with the woman they were deceiving (Three to tango and Happy, Texas) and two serial killer thrillers (The bone collector and Resurrection), both of which starred the same guy (once as a goodie and once as a baddie). Take this into account when I get confused.

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film beauty pageant crime comedy escape prison Texas ranger small town gay love relationship

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Rednecks, faggots, crims, liars and beauty pageants.


Happy, Texas is about small time crooks and small time people in an even smaller time town, all of whom are trying to forget their small time status. Unfortunately for them, you can take the boy out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the boy.

Jeremy and Steve jump into their roles like they were born to them - Jeremy: smooth talking, excessively confident wimp and Steve: slow talking, excessively compensatory aggro. While Steve sometimes goes over the top, this is not the kind of film where larger than life characters are out of place.

It's an independent romantic comedy so it has all the things you expect: slapstick, corny jokes, homosexuals, mistaken identities... but there's a dark edge to it, like discovering that someone slipped a whole chilli into your tomato sauce. Perhaps it's because the heroes aren't goodies at all, they're baddies (albeit not very good baddies) and even though they turn into goodies they still want to and do do their baddie things. If not for fate and a handy scriptwriter they would've hit the horizon in no time short. Or maybe it's because they're white trash rather than urban, urbane yuppies.

For a good night out with something more challenging than Ray Martin, Happy, Texas is the film for you.

Security censorship classification

M (Medium level violence, sexual references, low level coarse language)

Surveillance time

104 minutes (1:44 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 13 January 2000

Cinema surveillance images

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