Gene Siskel Film Center

"THE SOCIAL NETWORK writ small and funny, THE HAPPY POET is a wry fable of alternative capitalism in a postindustrial economy. Jobless but no slacker, Austin-based Bill (Gordon) buys a second-hand hot-dog cart (christened "The Happy Poet" in honor of his literary aspirations) but uses it to peddle such eco-treats as Eggless Egg Salad and Basil Pesto Spinach Mozzarella. His fleeting successes are offset by a steady series of humiliating reversals, but Bill stoically soldiers on. Much of the film's low-key but lingering punch derives from writer-director Gordon’s lead performance, a finely tuned deadpan turn in the tradition of Bob Newhart and Steven Wright."

~Gene Siskel Film Center

Entertainment Weekly

"My favorite movie so far at this year's SXSW is a little comedy, at once wistful and wonderfully dry-witted, called The Happy Poet. Shot here in Austin the film tells the story of one debt-ridden man who attempts to change his lousy fortunes by opening up a vegetarian food stand. It sounds modest. It is modest! But damned if my heart didn't swell during the film's great climax to say nothing of the last shot that left me touched to the point of tears. Austin filmmaker Paul Gordon, who wrote, directed, edited and starred in the movie ought to be mighty pleased with himself."

~Karen Valby, Entertainment Weekly

The Village Voice

"A sweet, stealthy film about creating meaning in your life (and your work) in a relentlessly mercenary world. Off-handed and yet quite artfully observed, The Happy Poet's winsome deadpan offsets its skewering of class and sustainability issues, right through to a tricky ending that, like Bill himself, may not be what it seems."

~Michelle Orange, The Village Voice

The New York Times

"The poet wants to be happy but doesn't really know how to go about it. It's a pretty good joke, and Mr. Gordon tells it with enough discipline and invention to make a significant portion of the film funny in interesting, subversive ways. A promising debut."

~Mike Hale, The New York Times

New York Magazine

"This deadpan no-budget comedy, about a glumly idealistic man who decides to start a health-food stand and the complications that result, is a genuine under-the-radar gem—the kind of quietly charming, profound film that creeps up on you. It's also, as luck would have it, perfectly acted."

~New York Magazine


"The Happy Poet, a deadpan charmer directed by Austin filmmaker Paul Gordon, moves along at the brisk pace of a light romantic comedy. ...Everything about The Happy Poet is cheerily conventional, save for Gordon's hilariously monotonous delivery, an ironic performance that incessantly contradicts the movie's title."

~Eric Kohn, IndieWIRE


"Admittedly, the film's muted rhythms take a little getting used to, but once you're acclimated to Gordon's long takes and just-short-of-painful pauses between reactions, it's easy to understand and sympathize with Bill's ambition…Even better, the film's dry sense of humor belies sincerity, rather than the kind of ironic detachment that seems to pop up frequently in independent films…The Happy Poet is a modest, funny little charmer – a textbook 'independent film' in many ways – but it's got the romantic heart of a mainstream movie, which is why you want to see its dreams become reality, and after watching it, you feel like yours can, too."

~Todd Gilchrist, Cinematical

Film Threat

"Director/star Paul Gordon's film is right up my alley, which is to say that I tend to revel in the awkward…The Happy Poet is nothing but awkward, a slice-of-life tale about a weird guy who feels that he should sell organic, mostly vegetarian food out of a hot dog cart…I really, truly dug it."

~Mark Bell, Film Threat

Greencine Dail

"If Slacker defined the shaggy eccentricities of Austin life circa the early '90s, then Gordon's similarly low-key comedy is a delightful, deadpan reappraisal of the town's prototypical charm some two decades later. What makes the film so winsome, beyond a lively supporting cast of believable kooks, is Gordon's sincerity, both as a performer and filmmaker."

~Aaron Hillis, Greencine Daily

"A brilliant piece of cinema that deserves attention." ~Michael Moore, director