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Happy Valley (2008)

PG-13 | | Documentary | 28 March 2008 (USA)
Deep in the heart of Utah, commonly referred to as "Happy Valley," residents enjoy one of the lowest crime rates, highest literacy and language fluency - even the most jello consumption - ... See full summary »

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Deep in the heart of Utah, commonly referred to as "Happy Valley," residents enjoy one of the lowest crime rates, highest literacy and language fluency - even the most jello consumption - across the nation. Yet under the glossy exterior of this beautiful community, there are less popular categories that Happy Valley contends in but doesn't advertise, including prescription drug abuse, double the national average of anti-depressant drugs, even suicide. In Happy Valley at least one teen per week dies from drug overdose. The real-life true story, Happy Valley, sheds light on the growing problem of prescription drug abuse in Utah County and, as importantly, the associated issues of denial, conformity, social pressure and guilt. The film intimately follows several lives and families that have been dramatically affected by prescription drug abuse leading to street drug abuse and addiction. From these stories and a single father's journey to reunite a family emerge unconditional love, ... Written by Forever Green Pictures

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What's in your Jello?

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Documentary

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PG-13
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28 March 2008 (USA)  »

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$250,000 (estimated)
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Good Movie but a Bit Strange in Parts
21 January 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Happy Valley" is an interesting film about prescription drug abuse in Utah--although it certainly is general enough to be applicable to prescription drug abuse in many places in the U.S. The premise of the documentary is that things look great on the surface of Utah but there is unseen pain and abuse beneath the happy surface. Additionally, in Utah there are many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons) who don't drink alcohol, coffee, or tea, or smoke cigarettes. Yet many of these very same people will take drugs because they're prescribed by a doctor.

The film does lose its way a bit when the director tries to equate sugar with drugs. I asked my friend who is a pharmacist about this, and he said, no, sugar and drugs are not analogous. Getting "addicted" to Twinkies is not the same as getting addicted to heroin.

Finally, the director seems to be channeling Michael Moore at a few points (that is, by inserting himself and his "will" into the documentary), especially at the end where he sets up a meeting between two people who have previously felt considerable antagonism for one another. While the scene was meant to be tender, it just made me feel uncomfortable. Moreover, it was unnecessary to the overall good message of the movie, which is that prescription drug abuse is a significant problem.


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