Happy Valley

Watch Happy Valley

  • NR
  • 2014
  • 1 hr 38 min
  • 7.1  (1,274)
  • 76

Happy Valley is a touching and thought-provoking documentary that delves into the scandal that rocked Penn State University in 2011. The film is directed by Amir Bar-Lev and features interviews with Joe Paterno, the legendary Penn State football coach, as well as his son Jay Paterno and attorney Andrew Shubin. The film begins by exploring Paterno's unparalleled success as a football coach, having led the Penn State Nittany Lions to 409 victories, two national championships, and five undefeated seasons over his 46-year career. Paterno was a beloved figure in State College, Pennsylvania, known for his commitment to education, his philanthropy, and his love of the game.

However, in 2011, Paterno's legacy was tarnished by allegations that his former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, had sexually abused young boys for years, and that Paterno and other university officials had failed to take action to stop it. The film takes a look at the fallout from the scandal, including the firing of Paterno, the arrest and conviction of Sandusky, and the impact on the Penn State community.

What sets Happy Valley apart from other documentaries about the scandal is its nuanced approach to the subject. Bar-Lev doesn't simply cast Paterno as a victim or a villain, but as a complex human being with flaws and virtues. The film shows how the scandal affected Paterno personally, as well as his family and the Penn State community.

One of the most touching moments in the film is when Paterno is diagnosed with lung cancer not long after being fired from his coaching position. Despite the pain and suffering he endured in his final months, Paterno remained engaged with his family, his team, and his school. He continued to coach from afar, offering advice and encouragement to his son Jay, who had taken over as quarterbacks coach.

The film also explores the role of the media in shaping the narrative of the scandal. Bar-Lev interviews several journalists who covered the story, including Sara Ganim, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the case. The film shows how the media frenzy surrounding the scandal created a rush to judgment and a narrative that was not always accurate.

Perhaps the most important theme of the film is the question of responsibility. Who was responsible for allowing Sandusky to continue his abuse for so long? Was it Paterno, who had received reports of Sandusky's behavior but failed to take action? Was it the university officials who were supposedly in charge of overseeing the football program? Or was it a broader failure of community and society to protect its most vulnerable members?

By raising these questions and exploring the multiple perspectives on the scandal, Happy Valley offers a powerful commentary on the complex nature of moral responsibility. It asks us to recognize that no person, institution, or community is perfect, and that we must all work together to promote safety, justice, and healing for those who have been harmed.

Overall, Happy Valley is a moving and thought-provoking documentary that offers valuable insights into the scandal that rocked Penn State and the broader issues of responsibility, accountability, and community. Its nuanced approach to the subject, combined with its powerful storytelling and striking imagery, make it a must-see for anyone interested in the human condition and the challenges of building a just and compassionate society.

Happy Valley is a 2014 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 38 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.1 and a MetaScore of 76.

Where to Watch Happy Valley
Happy Valley is available to watch free on Plex, Tubi TV and Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Happy Valley for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 38 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (1,274)
  • Metascore