By Renee Longstreet,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Thoughtful comedy's charm outweighs mild iffiness.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A solidly caring, good person interacts with assorted eccentric, troubled characters (including one angry bigot). She exhibits responsible, sensitive behavior and a natural ability to do the right thing.
Violence & Scariness
Schoolyard pushing and shoving; a homeless man appears threatening and volatile but really isn't; a man loses his temper, drives erratically, and menaces leading character.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Playful banter and tossing of "falsies"; a young woman is shown in bra and panties during scene in physical therapy office; kissing and partial undressing during flirtatious sexual foreplay; some degree of uncertainty regarding the nature of the feelings between the two women in the story's central friendship.
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There's one extended sequence during which a key character has a violent outburst of venomous cursing, including all forms of "f--k" and "bulls--t." Other scattered swearing and profanity includes "pissed off," "buggered off," "t-ts," "nipples," "pubic triangle," "crap," "bitch," and "bastards."
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Products & Purchases
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Social drinking in many scenes. The film's opening sequence follows a group of female friends partying in clubs, then finds all of them very drunk and silly in an apartment. One character smokes and vows to quit.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, despite its "R" rating, there's very little offensive or upsetting material in this British comedy. With the exception of one profanity-filled, angry outburst near the end of the movie, the salty language is mostly a means of colorful, humorous expression. The young professional female characters do drink socially -- and get very drunk once -- but they don't engage in irresponsible behavior. Sexuality is limited to some playful teasing among the young women and one scene between adults who kiss, begin to undress, and sink onto a bed. A chance encounter between the heroine and a mentally ill homeless man is scary for a few moments but resolves without violence. She also has to deal with the explosive jealousy of an unstable admirer.
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Where to Watch
Based on 2 parent reviews
GREAT MOVIE FOR 12+
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Waste of time
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What's the Story?
Poppy (Sally Hawkins) is a primary school teacher in North London. She's funny, almost blindly optimistic, and, of course, "happy go lucky." She has a busy life, surrounded by adoring (though slightly disbelieving) family and friends. When her bike is stolen, Poppy takes driving lessons. She also enrolls in a Flamenco dance class, notices that one of the young boys in her class has had some disturbing changes in behavior, encounters a mentally ill homeless man, and meets an appealing social worker. That's it. Those vignettes provide the structure that tells Poppy's story in HAPPY-GO-LUCKY.
Is It Any Good?
This is a movie with serious undercurrents and a dazzling performance by Hawkins. Director Mike Leigh -- who's well-known for constructing his movies from an idea, a sharp eye for extraordinary actors, and six months of improvisation and "rehearsal" -- has moved away from the serious subjects of his recent past (Vera Drake) to make what appears at first glance to be a frothy comedy. But there's much more to Happy-Go-Lucky.
Just beneath the surface of what seems to be Poppy's unwavering good spirit lies a wise, sensitive, and courageous young woman. She works hard, parties hard, yearns for a fulfilling relationship, and encounters evidence of the anger and pathology of strangers that could be around any corner. She's one of those people who's not afraid to look -- or to help. Nothing less than the profound question of how happiness is possible in today's world is at the heart of this film. Poppy's answer? It's a choice.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what the movie means by "happy go lucky." Do you have to be naïve and unaware of the world's problems in order to be "happy"? How did the movie show that always trying to see life's bright side didn't mean that Poppy wasn't responsible and intelligent as well? What kind of choices did she make when facing angry or unhappy people? Were they good choices? Why or why not? Can you understand why some people were annoyed by Poppy's sunny personality?
- In theaters: October 10, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: September 13, 2022
- Cast: Alexis Zegerman, Eddie Marsan, Sally Hawkins
- Director: Mike Leigh
- Studio: Miramax
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language.
- Last updated: April 4, 2023
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