Thursday, June 19, 2008

"The Happening" - REVIEW

You know there's something wrong with a movie that's meant to be taken seriously when a character apologizes to a plastic plant. In M. Night Shyamalan's latest thriller, people in the Northeast start freezing up and killing themselves. Is it an airborne virus? A terrorist attack? A government experiment gone wrong? The premise is certainly chilling (as was the film's trailer), yet even with such a good idea, M. Night manages to make sure that The Happening isn't happening at all. After some quick scenes of suicide, we're introduced to high school science teacher Elliot Moore (an embarrassingly awful Mark Wahlberg), who for some reason feels the need to talk to his students as though they're in the third grade. As "the event" starts happening, Moore, his estranged wife Alma (even more embarrassingly awful Zooey Deschanel), friend Julian (John Leguizamo) and his daughter begin evacuating. Obviously, said evacuation doesn't go too well. The train they eventually board drops off all its passengers claiming to have lost contact "with everyone". Among the first "allies" of Elliot and company is a couple who have their own plant nursery. In perhaps the most ridiculous scene of the movie, the husband leads the group into the nursery FULL OF PLANTS, blabs about how hotdogs are underrated, and THEN tells everyone, "I think PLANTS might be behind this!"; no, I am not making this up. Perhaps the main problem with The Happening is incidences like the one I just mentioned; they make it painfully clear that M. Night doesn't know what type of movie he's trying to make: serious thriller or tongue in cheek self parody (any film that juxtaposes scenes of two teens getting shot and a character actually apologizing to a plastic plant has serious tone issues). While some of the suicides are genuinely creepy (man walks into a lion cage at a zoo and gets torn to shreds), others just don't feel right. The script is so off, the performances flat out bad, and the inconsistencies so plentiful (the toxin seems to "attack" people in large groups, yet an elderly wackjob all by herself gets affected while other characters remain unharmed....). It's all such a shame because the final scene is actually a nice, spooky touch; it represents what the entire film should have been: a genuinely spooky apocalyptic thriller.

Grade: D+

Nominations: none

Number of 2008 Films Seen: 13


Lou Kije said...

Your lead-off sentence says it all.

I think you should ask Rupert Murdoch for your money back on the tickets. I'm serious. Someone should pay for this film fiasco, why does it have to be us?

See the details at:

jbaker475 said...

I would, however I watched the film on a free web site. That was the only good thing about the whole experience: I didn't have to pay lol