In his first feature, writer/director Sam Levinson (son of Barry) turns to screeching family dysfunction for inspiration; the end result makes Rachel Getting Married seem like Ibsen. Nearly every character is damaged chemically or emotionally in Another Happy Day, namely ball-of-hurt Lynn (Ellen Barkin), driving her sons Elliot (Ezra Miller)—a 17-year-old plagued with anxiety, drug addiction, and Tourette's—and Ben (Daniel Yelsky), a doughy pubescent with mild Asperger's, to her parents' Annapolis estate for her eldest boy's wedding. The groom appears to be the only one at this extended-family gathering not in need of SSRIs, which might explain why he's given three minutes of screen time. Ellen's college-age daughter, a self-cutter named Alice (Kate Bosworth), shows up mainly to look at the intricate crosshatched scars all over her body. Viewers must make do with staring at Barkin, apoplectic every minute, her rage so vehement and inexhaustible that it's a wonder she didn't pass out during filming. Hoping to distract us from the zero ideas found in his film, Levinson demands that his cast act loudly and unbearably, a task for which Demi Moore, as the second wife of Ellen's first husband, is perfectly suited.
Barkin: The drama's designated rage machine.
Opens at SIFF Cinema at the Uptown, Wed., Nov. 23. Rated R. 115 minutes.