Welcome to Happiness
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According to the U.S. Declaration of Independence, each of us is entitled to the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But many people find that happiness isn’t easy to find—so, in the eccentric indie fantasy Welcome to Happiness, one young man is tasked with helping those people find their way.

Welcome to Happiness follows children’s book author Woody Ward (Kyle Gallner) as he tries to focus on his next book while dealing with the distractions that come with his other job.

Sad, lonely, broken people regularly show up at Woody’s door, not knowing why they’re there. And it’s Woody’s job to ask them a few questions before sending them to his closet, where they’ll disappear through a tiny door. Woody has no idea where they go—or why—but when he discovers what happens behind the door, he becomes desperate to be allowed in.

Welcome to Happiness isn’t the kind of movie that you see drawing massive crowds in every theater in the country. It’s an odd little film with quirky characters and an unusual story—but that’s exactly what makes it both intriguing and endearing. It’s color and music and philosophy and touches of spirituality all coming together in one strange—and strangely beautiful—package.

The story meanders through the sometimes loosely interconnected lives of various lovably troubled yet colorful characters—from Josh Brener’s Ripley, who’s still dealing with the loss of his parents, to lonely artist Nyles (Brendan Sexton III), who’s wrestling with deep, dark secrets from his youth. Each one has his own quirks—like Woody’s bizarre stories for kids or Nyles’s obsession with painting cats—which help to offset the deep sadness and regrets that surround him. And each one finds himself somehow guided along in his pursuit of happiness by wacky Proctor (Keegan-Michael Key) and his almost ethereal companion, Lillian (Molly C. Quinn).

The sadness and silliness of the characters and their quirks definitely makes for a peculiar mix—and as it makes its way toward its conclusion, this strange little film only becomes stranger. But there’s a method to the madness—a point that it’s trying to make. Though it may get a bit heavy-handed toward the end, it eventually transforms into a surprisingly thought-provoking film about finding your own happiness.

Of course, this inventive dramedy isn’t for everyone—and if you’re expecting the same old brainless fantasy, it’s sure to leave you scratching your head. But there are certainly some lessons to be learned from these self-conscious characters and their mystical journey.

Ed. Note: Welcome to Happiness is currently showing at film festivals around the country. For more information, visit WelcomeToHappinessFilm.com.

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