Cinema: Love and Larceny In a Small Town

You can find trouble in Happy, Texas--and a delightful time too

At last January's Sundance Film Festival, the big finds were The Blair Witch Project and Happy, Texas. The first film, which its makers sold to Artisan Entertainment for $1.1 million, went on to become the feel-scared (or -shafted) movie of the summer and to earn nearly $140 million at the domestic box office. By this yardstick, Happy, Texas, which Miramax Films picked up for about $6 million, should sweep the Oscars and outgross Titanic.

In movies, of course, the rules of mathematics apply less universally than the law of the fluke. Blair Witch was a cunning fluke; Happy, Texas is...