Happy Endings is the latest in what I'll call the "Eleanor Rigby" genre. All the lonely people—where do they all come from? You'll get something like an answer, and eventually all the stories will brush up against one another. Though ensemble dramedies tend to say the same thing with different actors, the resulting movies are almost always entertaining, and Happy Endings benefits from the tart outlook of writer-director Don Roos.
The title of the film clues us in that, double entendre aside, the story will be finally optimistic. That optimism is hard-won, of course, as we first watch miserable people get themselves into plenty of trouble. Lisa Kudrow plays an Angeleno offered a deal by Jesse Bradford's wannabe filmmaker. He will lead her to the son she put up for adoption if she lets him film the whole thing; instead, her masseuse boyfriend (Bobby Cannavale) suggests a fake documentary about his sexual exploits on the job.
Meanwhile, Kudrow's gay stepbrother (Steve Coogan), the lost boy's father, obsesses over sperm that he once gave to a lesbian couple played by Laura Dern and Sarah Clarke. Meanwhile, Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Tom Arnold for a sugar daddy, angering his closeted gay son (Jason Ritter). It's not Altman, but it's close, especially when the terrific Gyllenhaal sings. Secrets and lies laid bare by a strong cast make Roos' happy endings cathartic and reassuring.