A thoughtfully made children's album, A World of Happiness features original singalong songs performed by a hip, all-star cast that spans Cheers' George Wendt and Jane's Addiction's Perry Farrell. While the performers are game and the album's aims are more than admirable, A World of Happiness suffers from some slight songwriting; simply put, some of these songs just aren't that catchy. Illeana Douglas and Gary Oldman give their all to "Just Ask" and Bradley Whitford and Jane Kaczmarek do the same on their likeminded duet, "The Jiggles," but their energetic performances tend to emphasize that neither song is particularly memorable after it stops playing. For the most part, the album skillfully avoids the patronizing sweetness of a lot of children's music, although Lisa Loeb's "In the Details" and Rosanna Arquette's "The Possibilities" come close to being saccharine. Some of A World of Happiness' sassier songs are both fun and smart, especially Isaac Hayes' wonderfully cranky "The Grumps," Michael Wincott's deadpan reading of "Tatum the Toad," and Samuel L. Jackson's jazzy turn on "Knowa the Cat." Perry Farrell and Debbie Harry's "The Patience Bossa" is one of the album's best duets, although it could have been even more playful. Gretchen Parlato's "Kassandra the Snake" and George Wendt and the Velvet Snazzletones' "Use Your Words" are two other standouts, mixing education with a sense of play and wonder. A World of Happiness is far from a bad album, but unfortunately its results don't always live up to its intentions.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares