Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Happy-Go-Lucky Movie Poster Image
Thoughtful comedy's charm outweighs mild iffiness.
  • R
  • 2008
  • 118 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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.


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.


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.


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."


Tesso Oil.

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 14 and 17-year-old Written bymovielover284940 March 29, 2018


The language is the only concern here. There are 10 F-Words, 8 of which are said during one scene where an angry character lashes out at somebody else. You can... Continue reading
Parent of a 6, 9, and 14-year-old Written byblindingsky April 22, 2009

Waste of time

I'm sorry, but *to me* this movie was very boring.. I kept wondering when I was going to see a plot forming. Basically it just shows how an airhead who has... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byBestPicture1996 October 25, 2013

Happy to watch it!

I feel like I've just created a friendship with "HGL's" Poppy. She's a never-failing optimist who I thought was adorable in the beginni... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byeastside01 June 11, 2009

Happy go Lucky makes you feel happy go lucky

Happy Go Lucky was the best british movie of 2008 and Sally Hawkins was a delight as poppy a free-spirited teacher. go out and rent it.

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?

Movie details

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