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Happy Texas

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Happy Texas

Starring: Steve Zahn, Jeremy Northam
Director: Mark Illsley
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 104 Minutes
Release Date: October 1999
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Ron Perlman, Ally Walker, M.C. Gainey, Timothy Bagley, William H. Macy, Ileanna Douglas

Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

In the comedy genre of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" and "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar," this whimsical farce revolves around two convicts - Jeremy Northam ("The Winslow Boy," "An Ideal Husband") and Steve Zahn ("Out of Sight") - who escape from a chain-gang and steal a Winnebago, only to discover that its rightful owners are two gay guys who travel around the country producing children's beauty pageants. Their only hope of evading the law is to assume these new identities, which is immediately funny since neither crook is exactly in touch with his feminine side. When they arrive in Happy, Texas, Zahn's job is to coach the pre-teen contestants for the Little Miss Squeezed Pageant - to the delight of supervisor Illeana Douglas - while Northam handles the business end. Their plan is to pocket the contractual $1,000 fee and scram quickly - after robbing the local bank. Only it's not that easy. Beautiful banker Ally Walker (TV's "Profiler") is attracted to Northam - and he to her - but the only way he can be with her and maintain the charade is to pretend to be her sympathetic confidante. And Northam's in for an even bigger surprise when the tormented sheriff - that's William H. Macy - has a hankering for him at a gay cowboy bar. Screenwriters Ed Stone, Phil Reeves and writer/director Mark Illsley were obviously inspired by Billy Wilder's "Some Like It Hot" since there are many similarities. Curiously, in this era of Jon-Benet Ramsey's murder, the jibes are gentle; somewhere, somehow there's irony buried in juvenile beauty pageants that's yet to be unearthed. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Happy, Texas" is a snappy, screwball 6. And if you like this, rent the video "Waiting for Guffman," which is even funnier.

Copyright 1999 Susan Granger

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