Hell is family in Another Happy Day, a portrait of one clan’s reunion for a wedding that overflows with characters even more repugnant than the irony of its groan-worthy title. After wallowing in uniformly reprehensible company for the better part of two hours, writer-director Sam Levinson’s film comes around to positing death as a more unifying force than love, an apt message given how successfully its story elicits a burning desire for a nuclear holocaust to wipe the screen clean. Rarely has a tale been more thoroughly ugly in every respect, and to no meaningful end, as Levinson revels in presenting one nasty piece of work after another without any purpose other than to argue that self-destructiveness, abuse, thoughtlessness, selfishness, and general screw-uppery are hereditary traits.
That message is delivered via the saga of Lynn (Ellen Barkin), who travels to Annapolis, Maryland for the marriage of her oldest son Dylan (Michael Nardelli), whom she had with, and left in the care of, her violent first husband Paul (Thomas Haden Church). Once there, she’s forced to contend with her self-mutilating daughter Alice (Kate Bosworth), who has issues with Paul, as well as her kids from a second marriage, Ben (Daniel Yelsky), who has Asperger’s, and Elliott (Ezra miller), who’s a drug addict, not to mention cruelly catty sisters, an infirm Fox News-loving father (George Kennedy), and a wretched mother (Ellen Burstyn).
These individuals are, to a tee, presented in the most negative light imaginable, so that Lynn is cursed at and pushed around by Fentanyl-ingesting Elliott, mocked by her grotesque siblings, and treated like trash by her parents, who have the gall to favor Paul over their own child even when he admits to having viciously socked Lynn in the face. Levinson can’t keep from piling on, to the point that Burstyn’s materfamilias isn’t just a severe bitch; as confirmed by her claim that her husband likes his pancakes “blacker than that lady on the syrup bottle,” she’s also a racist! Everyone treats everyone else like dirt, including Paul’s stuck-up wife (Demi Moore), with Lynn functioning as the veritable punching bag for most of the relatives, a situation that might have elicited a shred of sympathy were it not for the fact that Barkin’s protagonist is herself a needy, whiny, socially inept mess who’s at least partially responsible for her own personal and familial problems.
Intermittent sequences filtered through the point of view of Ben’s home-movie camera do little to break up the monotony of Another Happy Day’s cretin-packed melodrama, which peaks during a rehearsal dinner full of underage drinking, malicious insults, and Moore attempting to strangle Barkin. It’s dysfunctional sound and fury signifying nothing except the emptiness of Oscar-baiting bad-behavior histrionics.