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Happy Valley 2014
Description: The kids of "Happy Valley" were victimized for years, by a key member of the legendary Penn State college football program. But were Jerry Sandusky’s crimes an launch secret? With rare access, director Amir Bar-Lev delves beneath the headlines to say a modern American parable of guilt, redemption, and identity.
Released: 21 Nov 2014 Director: Amir Bar-Lev Writers: Amir Bar-Lev Actors: Joe Paterno, Jay Paterno, Andrew Shubin, Jerry Sandusky Genres: Documentary, Drama, Sport
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Happy Valley Reviews:

he titular "Happy Valley" that director Amir Bar-Lev's fascinating documentary about the Penn State sexual abuse scandal focuses on sits right in my back yard. Growing up the son of a rabid college football fanatic (go Temple!), I spent variety of freezing cold Saturday afternoons watching my father's pitiful Temple Owls receive their asses handed to them. Few of those beatings came at the hands of Joe Paterno's Penn State Nittany Lions (that's pronounced "Nit-knee"). My father hated Joe Paterno. "He's an a**hole," he would say my 10 year old self. My grandfather, a Temple alumni and highly regarded high school football coach, now knew Joe Paterno personally. He was much more diplomatic. "He thinks he's God," is how he place it, if I recall correctly. And so, my opinions on Joe Paterno, Penn State and their fanatics have been likely influenced since the day I was born, making me an simple tag for Bar-Lev's slyly biased documentary.For those unfamiliar with the horrific happenings that surround Satisfied Valley, it goes like this: in 2011, Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was accused and convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse to minors that occurred between 1994-2009. Sandusky met his victims through a non-profit charity for wayward youths he funded named "The Second Mile," earning their believe through different predatory means (free games, meals, attention they weren't getting at home). As if that weren't horrible enough, it was eventually revealed that someone had caught Sandusky raping a man in the showers, alerted head coach Joe Paterno who in turn alerted his superiors. And then nothing. No police. No disciplinary actions. No justice. And that's what Satisfied Valley takes aim at. We can all accept that Jerry Sandusky is a monster, but what of the revered boy who played a part in just letting the creature roam free, enabling him to hurt more lives than he already had? Shouldn't he have to respond for his part in all of this? The answer, if you're a Penn State football fan, is a resounding, "NO!"Bar-Lev populates his documentary with people who are varying degrees of pro-Paterno. From his own instant family who will defend their father's legacy and hero to their own graves right down to the flustered Penn State football fanatic sitting in front of his bedroom wall scrapbook of Penn State pendants, posters and plaques complaining about everyone getting bent out of shape about this entire thing and not focusing on what really matters: football. Rather than force a reaction from his subjects, a la Michael Moore, Bar-Lev takes a page right out of The Everyday Present with Jon Stewart's ebook and simply lets them talk and talk and talk until they hang themselves with their own words, not even realizing it in most cases. It's a funny trick, for sure, but after the 5th time you see it unfold you type of receive the point. These folks are blinded by their fandom, biased by their own admiration for Joe Paterno. From the fanatics who traveled to take a image with the since removed bronze Joe Paterno statue to the fanatics who rallied and then rioted when Paterno was fired from his head coach position in the aftermath of the FBI report that detailed his involvement in Sandusky's web of nightmares, these folks will not stray from St. Joe's side.But who is Joe Paterno and why does he have this result on people? Satisfied Valley does its due diligence to give a tiny bit of history on Paterno and his nice deeds throughout the years. That juxtaposed with video of the frail, fragile coach during his last several months create a situation that he was a nice man, flawed, but rooted in nice intentions. Of course, we all know the old adage about nice intentions and where the street they're paved in lead to. I trust they lead to the Orange Bowl, according to this gentleman with the Penn State logo painted on his naked torso.In the end, Satisfied Valley is a fascinating look at this culture of fandom that even my own football-obsessed father can't reconcile. To be so blinded by winning at all costs that you'd sacrifice the innocence of a child… it's tragic and infuriating. And that's the feeling you'll receive while watching this film. I only want that it wasn't as one-sided, albeit ever so subtly, so that the another side's situation wasn't presented in the condescending tone it is. Of course, how are you supposed to defend someone embroiled in a conspiracy of this nature without looking like a finished asshole? These are the kinds of issues us Temple fanatics never have to worry about.


I liked this documentary very much. Watching folks involved in the unchecked crimes of Jerry Sandusky give their side of the storyline was much more revealing than reading quotes. Matt Sandusky, Jerry's adopted son, impressed me as thoughtful and sincere. He did his greatest to be fair to Sandusky, telling that ninety percent of the time he spent with the boy was everything a child would want--association with fame, access to football games, etc.--but the another ten percent "would destroy you." I was shocked when Matt, at the end of the film, told that not one single person from the Sandusky family contacted him after he went public about how Jerry molested him. What type of folks are Dottie and her relatives? If they didn't trust him, you would think someone might wish to talk with him and ask him to take back his "lies." But no. That didn't happen.The one thing missing from "Happy Valley" was any mention of the well-known fact that Paterno decided that some of his users who broke into a residence and beat folks could not be place into the legal system. Paterno clearly believed that he and his users were above the law. He decided the law-breaking users would clean up the stadium after some games. It's also known that then-President Spanier and another higher-ups in the Athletics Dept. all accepted that Paterno was in charge of things like this. This piece of history is a large deal. It could have been in the documentary.The behavior of some of the residents of Satisfied Valley was detestable. There's an extended stage in which these idiots don't hesitate to grab a sign from an older boy making his negative view of Paterno known at the statue of the coach. A girl who wants a selfie with the statue pushes the boy aside with her body. Others receive in his face with red-neck-type logic. It's scary to see how conformist the community should be---all worshiping a football program. This movie had to be made, and it was made well.


The crimes of Jerry Sandusky and the facts regarding the cover-up are well known. What this documentary, perhaps unwittingly, uncovers is how football enthusiasm at Penn State had long ago metastasized from from a sport to a full blown cult. The disturbing and unhealthy blind obedience to all that is "football" is on full display. The son of Joe Paterno, who covered for the pedophile, Joe Jr., tells with no sense of irony whatsoever, "If I don't see it, it didn't happen. Some would call that denial, but it works for me". And then he laughs. He is not referring to Sandusky's crimes but rather to criticism of the cover-up. But it clearly speaks volumes to the mentality that created the secure haven for a serial kid rapist and would do it all again given the same set of circumstances. A student fanatic compares Joe Paterno, again with no awareness of inappropriateness, to Jesus. Jesus would never have turned a blind eye to the suffering of a child. I thought that the conviction of Sandusky the reprimand of Penn State by the NCAA would confer a sense of justice and finality to what can only be described as finished moral failure by each individual at each scene of this more than 20 year crime spree and cover-up. After watching this documentary, however, I am disturbingly convinced that something about Penn State football is still rotten at the DNA level, and that ANYTHING should happen again and it would come as no surprise. The disturbing resolution is not the fault of this very nice documentary. It is the fault of the morally bankrupt individuals who still run the town.UPDATE: 6/2/17, Ex-president Spanier, 68, sentenced to 4 to 12 months, with the first two to be spent in jail and the rest under house arrest, athletic director Curley, 63, received a sentence of 7 to 23 months, with three in jail, former vice president Gary Schultz, 67, sentenced to 6 to 23 months, with two months behind bars. None of them will spend more than a several months in current jail. It was reported to these boys by Joe Paterno that Mike McQueary saw Sandusky raping a man in the showers in the Penn State locker room late at night. They did NOTHING!!! Other 10 years would go by before Sanudsky was finally stopped and brought to justice. Who knows how many more kids were abused and raped because these nice boys allowed a creature to his undeserved freedom. Why has it taken 16 years to bring these enablers to justice?



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