One of my all-time favorite reads is a short story from the EHS days. I can't remember what class it was for, but maybe you'll recognize it. It was called The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas and it really artfully addresses the idea that happiness is often perceived as vapid or naive, and sometimes it is, but that there is also a sort of enlightened happiness that can come not from being oblivious to the darkness and suffering of the world but by fully recognizing it and appreciating all the more the opportunity for real happiness and light.
I think a lot of art and artists (or just cranky people sometimes) fall into the trap of believing that something has to be sad to be meaningful. Sometimes I'll read a book with an ending that is horribly depressing but in an empty, lazy way, because it will be assumed that a tragic ending is somehow beautiful simply by merit of its sadness, whereas a happy ending, however fitting or poignant, is considered cheap. I think this must be backlash from the admittedly ample supply of forced cheesy/happy endings, although I'd argue that those are usually tacked on to something more commercial than artistic anyway. I'm getting away from the point, which is this: Poppy embodies this idea of enlightened optimism, and Happy-Go-Lucky slowly reveals this over the course of the movie until she is seamlessly transformed in the audience's eyes from endearing but insufferable into a beloved saint.
At the very beginning I thought, Aha! I didn't know there was a movie about me! as our protagonist biked gracelessly to the bookstore, to harass its sole caretaker with cheerfulness. Did you know my (second) darling bike was stolen recently, to my devastation? Did I tell you that? Was that how this movie came up? I can't recall. In any case, I was hooked from scene one.
Then, though, I'm man enough to admit some doubts swam to the surface right around when a chicken booblet was being frisbeed around the room to the background of her laugh. Oh, that laugh. Some questions arose. What is wrong with this person? Is she in a perpetual manic state? Is this what I'm like? And if so, is that awesome or horrifying or both? Don't they have any dentists? Not to worry, Poppy and the gang grew on me quick as a malignancy so that these questions, if not yet fully answered, were quieted after only a few scenes so I could enjoy the splendor uninterrupted.
We start to piece together that Poppy's...