Hey, Happy!

In his book Big Kiss, gay humorist Henry Alford explains his disdain for show tunes by theorizing that the entire musical genre is a conspiracy to discredit homosexual men. In recent years, gay indie films seem to have taken over musical theater's role, as audiences have been deluged by a never-ending stream of gay indies seemingly designed to prove that they can be just as formulaic and pointless as their heterosexual counterparts. A Canadian variation, Hey, Happy! stars Jérémie Yuen as a beatific stoner DJ intent on sleeping with 2,000 men before an impending ecological apocalypse destroys Winnipeg. Craig Aftanis co-stars as Yuen's blissfully ignorant object of desire, a naïve, UFO-obsessed simpleton who becomes the unwitting target of insufferable hairstylist Clayton Godson, the self-proclaimed "biggest bitch" in Winnipeg. Godson kidnaps, rapes, and tortures Aftanis, while the party people of Winnipeg continue to ignore their impending doom and Yuen searches for his lost love. Powered more by its propulsive techno score than its unbearable script, Hey, Happy! feels suspiciously like an unpromising student film sadistically stretched to feature length. Aftanis and Yuen's romance unfolds with iconic simplicity, and at its best, the film captures the communal bliss of a good rave nearly as well as the exponentially superior Groove. But compared to Hey, Happy!, the slight and charming Groove looks like a masterpiece of wit and in-depth characterization. Like its characters, Hey, Happy! is more comfortable with music, images, and rhythms than words, but unlike raves, narrative films generally need dialogue, and whenever the characters open their mouths, the movie crawls to a halt. Even at 75 minutes, it seems less like a party than an endurance test.

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