Little about Happiness Ever After makes sense, but reason and logic may not be what the makers of a romantic movie are after. The women who want to embody female empowerment and self possession seem far more interested in expensive clothes, cars, and spa days than in emotionally enriching their lives. For that reason, this often feels cartoonish and inauthentic, like a gilt-edged soap opera episode from Dynasty or Dallas. With the exception of Zim, there is no one to like or admire here. Choices the women make seem questionable at best. Princess dumps a steady but controlling guy to return to a situation that clearly won't work. Zaza spends about a minute of screen time with the kids she supposedly doesn't want taken from her. Maneuvered out of her dead husband's company by a bullying sister-in-law, Zaza suddenly, with no leverage we know of, presses the sister to inexplicably back down. How? A guy waltzes into someone's home. When did he get the key? A painter who hasn't been paying child support lives in a lovely space with a fashionably subway-tiled kitchen. It is all an unlikely mess.
Movies with all-Black casts are release too infrequently in the United States, especially ones focusing on banal everyday problems -- love, commitment, career -- rather than police/prison/drug clichés. But don't mistake this for an improvement on the mediocre mainstream movies about people living their privileged lives that this is modeled on. If this were better written or better acted, it might aspire to the clever nastiness of The Devil Wears Prada, which takes place in a realm where happiness doesn't pretend to play a role. The happiness of the title is hardly evident in the lives of Zaza and Princess, whose materialism seems to dictate their choices. Artifice-free Zim gives us hope, but her choice in men, the evidence suggests, is lousy, leaving the likelihood of happiness slim for her as well.