Monday, June 16, 2008

What, No Rerun Tribute?

The Happening

Release: 06.13.2008
Rated R
1 hour, 31 minutes

Group Rental ($)

Oh wait, Fred 'Rerun' Berry was on that great 70's show called What's Happening!!, and this is the new M. Night Shyamalan film The Happening. Really, you couldn't remotely confuse the two, but it makes for a cheesy and forced segue into the review of The Happening. Whether you've seen it or not, you have to be asking yourself, what's happening with The Happening? Let's try and dissect it:


What's Happening...

With the Story? Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg, Planet of the Apes) is a Philadelphia high school teacher married to Alma (Zooey Deschanel, Winter Passing), an office worker or something or other. Elliot gets word at school that Central Park was ground zero for some sort of terrorist attack and that school will be dismissed. He and Alma meet up with his friend Julian (John Leguizamo, The Honeymooners) at the train station to get out of the city in case there is another attack. More attacks occur, people die and our stars continue to flee from the all-encompassing threat.

With his story-telling?
The Happening is downright amateurish. The story is overly simplistic and is practically dragged behind the actors to the finish line. M. Night Shyamalan's films have always relied on deep, well-rounded characters; when you don't have any of those you have The Happening.

With the anti-twist?
Shyamalan is famous for his twist endings but the twist here is actually the beginning. The wise words of a lazy student are reiterated in the final scenes. Time and again we are told exactly what is happening with little debate or questioning. How incredibly boring.

With the budget?
M. Night couldn't afford spiffy alien costumes and makeup or nifty CGI for a supernatural phenomenon so we settle for a couple of really large fans. Whoosh! Whir! Whoosh!

With casting Wahlberg as a teacher? Dude, no. Totally not believable. Not. At. All.

With Alan Ruck?
That's right, Alan Ruck of Ferris Bueller fame is in The Happening. He's in it for all of ninety seconds, and half the time we watch the back of his head. That's just shameful misuse of a That Guy.

With Spencer Breslin?
I had high hopes for him after The Kid. Now it looks like he is the Eric Roberts to his sister Abigail's Julia.

With all the J People?
Jake, Julian, Jess, Jared, Josh, Mrs. Jones, Joey. I know you like patterns, Mr. Shyamalan, but what was the pattern here? I thought I saw it but it seems like you pussied out on us.

With the Environmental Movement? The "When Plants Attack" premise of M. Night's film single-handedly set back the Go Green initiative by a good decade. Way to kneecap Gore's efforts.

With folks' emotions? Hundreds of thousands of people are dying in the Northeast. Hell, some are falling dead at your feet! Do people scream, run, panic and punch each other in the jejunum for the last ticket on the train out of town? Nope. It's all orderly lines and mild anxiety in Shymalan's world. Has he never seen a George A. Romero film? When shit happens people get raw.

With the mood ring?
You'd think it'd be important, right? We practically see Wahlberg masturbate to the thing. I think it had lots to do with emotions and triggering the animosity of the cypresses, but do I look like I give a shit?

With the Lemon Drink? When our characters meet the solitary Mrs. Jones (Betty Buckley, Wyatt Earp), she's sipping a lemon drink as evidenced by the glass with the lemon slice floating in it and her comment about offering them some lemon drink. Um, M. Night, if the bat-shit crazy lady is so insular that she grows her own food and avoids human contact, show me the fucking lemon orchard in western Pennsylvania where she gathers her fruit!

With the R rating?
It was nice seeing the large amounts of blood. It would have been better had there been more graphic imagery than what the red band trailer showed. Blew its entire load on me before I even sat down.

With the looks in this picture?

Yep, that's despair. And not for the vicious, invisible killer lurking outside. It's genuine fear of the box-office death their careers may suffer for this.

With the audience?
I'll tell you what's happening, we're being suckered out of our hard-earned money!

and lastly...

What's Happening with The Happening?
Nothing. Nothing of consequence happens in The Happening. The Happening is bilking thousands of people out of millions of dollars. The Happening robbed me of ninety-one minutes of my life. On the plus side, The Happening is signaling the death knell of M. Night Shyamalan's career. Rest in peace.

Large Association of Movie Blogs


  1. Can't read this as I still (don't yell at me) plan to see it. I know, I know, you and everyone else are panning the hell out of it...

  2. No yelling here. It's human nature to rubberneck at devastation.

    It may not be as terrible as I make it out. I remember I was like 'that was kinda bad' when we left the theater and every hour thereafter it dug a little deeper in my craw. You've seen movies that improve or worsen as you hash it out in your mind.

    At any rate, have fun at the movies.

  3. Wait for it to come out on DVD.

    The Village was better than this film.

    The Happening goes nowhere.

  4. I've been thinking of watching The Village again. Neither me or my wife liked it, but we found ourselves discussing the where it went wrong for weeks. After the Happening, we were content to just wash it from our minds.

  5. Howard gives a good performance in The Village, helping the film's quality greatly.

  6. I like Howard a lot, and remember at least enjoying her role in Village.