Although this third film by Todd Solondz is not as good as "Welcome To The Dollhouse" or "Happiness", it still smacks of satirical cynicism. Inexplicably split into two films ('Fiction', 'Non-fiction'), we are first presented with a twenty minute film about community college level 'writing', in which, a young woman has a confrontational and sexual sparring with the black, 'mandingo' teacher. It's all meant to be a comment on hypocritical racists in education. It culminates in an outrageous sex encounter that is literally 'blocked' by a large red rectangle (taboo emphasis). It's moderately entertaining.
The second part of the film is more complex. Without exposing too much of the plot, it involves (as "Happiness" did) classism, racism, sexism, oh hell, any 'ism' you could imagine. But it works. It is simply a story of an upper middle class American family with the 2.5 kids and the proper suburban parents with a perfect son, the 'imperfect' son and the 'baby'. Kudos to John Goodman and Julie Haggerdy for participating in this movie. They bring life and legitimacy to their roles. Solondz filmed this well before "reality TV" was popular, and that is the premise. While the imperfect son is being secretly filmed for a documentary, the family struggles through it's own unusually tragic existence (the youngest of the three sons is the 'Brady Bunch brat' we always thought we wanted to see as evil). Needless to say, Solondz produces many shocks and surprises along the way. The trip is wildly entertaining, but the finale may leave the viewer distraught. Not that the story is poorly conceived or arranged, but simply that the ending is horribly, terribly depressing. It still good enough to recommend. I consider that a rare accomplishment for any film-maker.