Movie review: The Secret to a Happy Ending

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Through more than a decade of recording and nearly nonstop touring, the Drive-By Truckers have accrued enough followers to propel their last two albums into Billboard's Top 40.

When forged through so many live shows, the connection between band and fans tends to be particularly strong. First-time director Barr Weissman, who's clearly part of the latter camp, rewards the loyalty of his fellow DBT lovers with an ode to the Athens, Georgia-based band's Southern roots and Americana sound.

"The Secret to a Happy Ending" uses interviews and extensive concert footage to cover the musical history of founder Patterson Hood and musical partners Mike Cooley, Jason Isbell and Shonna Tucker.

While most fans will feel right at home watching, the uninitiated may have a bone or two to pick.

Beyond Hood's connection through his bassist father to the classic R&B made in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, little effort is made to put the band into a larger musical context. Other omissions seem driven by a none-too-subtle effort on Weissman's part to manage the band's image.

As a result, the film is better suited for a box set bonus disc than a solo run on the big screen.

The Secret to a Happy Ending

Screening Thursday, Dec. 9 and Sunday, Dec. 12 at the Gateway

2 stars out of 4