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Thursday, September 30, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 28

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Creators of delightful, gay film Happy, Texas hope hard work pays of

Happy, Texas

Starring: Steve Zhan, William H. Macy

Running Time: 104 minutes

Rating: PG-13

Grade: B+

By Rattaya Nimibutr
Daily Cougar Staff 

When director/writer/producer of the new comedy Happy, Texas Mark Illsley stands next to his co-writer/co-producer Ed Stone, he towers a few good inches over his partner.

They are both nervous.

It may be the general pre-release jitters that every movie creator feels, wondering whether or not people will go see the film or, what's more important, whether or not they'll like it.


Director/writer/producer for Happy, Texas Mark Illsay (right) puts the pinch on his c0-writer/co-producer Ed Stone.

Henri Chen/The Daily Cougar

"We're really nervous about people going to see it," said Stone, the film's main writer, at a recent promotional tour stop in Houston.

"It's the feeling that happens with every movie, but this one time I'm really biting my nails and getting all weird about it. It's a funny little film that we made that we just don't want people to miss," said Stone.

Happy, Texas is a comedy about two escaped convicts who reside in the small town of Happy posing as gay beauty pageant coordinators in order not only to stay away from the law, but also to run a scam to rob the town's only bank.

When asked what they were trying to achieve from this film besides people going to see it, Illsley was quick to reply.

"We started out with making this film for the comedy and quality of it. We didn't think of it as a money-making movie. We hope a lot of people will like it.

"It's just that this film has so many different and talented actors and they worked so hard at it. The appreciation of this film should go to the hard work that these actors put into it," said Illsley.

Happy premiered as part of the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and had people actually asking if this small town really exists.

"Believe it or not, Happy, Texas, does exist," said Stone.

"The town also has a thing for beauty pageants. I used to work as a disc jockey back then near Happy, and I was just so amused by the whole town itself.

"Well, I also made fun of it, too. Not the typical stuff about small towns, mainly their obsession with pageants. It's not a bad thing. I don't insult them, it's just something that's funny for a small town," said Stone.

Starring Steve Zhan and Jeremy Northam (An Ideal Husband), this comedy relies on dry jokes that become infectious as the film progresses.

Zhan, who made a splash as the nervous con in Out of Sight with George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, is even better in Happy, Texas as Wayne, one of the two convicts residing in Happy.

His partner in crime is Harry (Northam), who portrays the tougher and smarter of the two.

The film also stars William H. Macy (Mystery Men) as the town's sheriff Chappy, a role in which Macy excels and adds another definite positive to the film.

The story line can become a little predictable, but that certainly should not be a reason to dismiss this movie.
 

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