“Happy Valley” anything but happy

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Justin Baronoff, Staff Reporter

The movie 22 Jump Street made me laugh uncontrollably, Avengers put me on the edge of my seat, Marley and Me brought me to tears, and Happy Valley, well let’s just say made me anything but happy.

“Happy Valley” was an overall disappointment. The movie did not provide enough background information to help viewers understand what the Jerry Sandusky case was all about. Frankly, as a college football fan who knew something about the case, it left me confused and while it certainly had the potential to be a great movie, it fell short.

If you are not familiar with the Penn State University Sandusky case, then you would need a little bit of a back-story. During November of 2011, in the center of Penn State University, nicknamed Happy Valley, Sandusky, the defensive coordinator, was charged and convicted on 45 counts of child sexual abuse. The school was in such disbelief and shock that it later fired legendary head coach, Joe Paterno for allegedly knowing about the incident. Sandusky was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to 30 years with a maximum of 60 years in 2012. Paterno later that year passed away due from lung cancer.

Director Amir Bar-Lev’s documentary takes quotes from family members of Sandusky and Paterno, others who surrounded the case, and shows pointless destruction from crazed fans. The quotes were just too limited in detail and not one individual said what Happy Valley exactly was, besides it being happy, which anyone could have determined.

A part in the film that caught my attention was from a senior during the time of the scandal in 2011. He voiced his opinion on how furious he was with the school and how it is even taking over the football team. Later in the movie, the anger has eaten up the senior so much that he takes down a portrait of Paterno on his wall. This part made me agree with the senior’s statements; how the whole scandal took away from what Penn St. is most famous for; football.

The film came out in November of 2014, but was only seen in select theaters. It was not released to the public until April 7 on DVD.
A documentary is defined as a movie that documents a factual record or report. Happy Valley did have some facts about the case, but not a lot to help viewers understand how it started and what exactly was going on. Although Penn State’s motto is, “Making Life Better,” it was the complete opposite in this film.

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