Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Happening *


Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel
John Leguizamo, Ashlyn Sanchez, Spencer Breslin, Betty Buckley

If such things as film deities exist, M. Night Shyamalan is seriously out of favor with all of them.
After the stupifyingly stupid "The Village" and the masturbatory "Lady in the Water", he returns with his take on the impending apocalypse to deliver a thriller that ends up being mostly unintentional comedy.
"The Happening" begins in New York City, Central Park to be exact, where all the people suddenly freeze like extras from "Last Year at Marienbad" before they start comitting suicide.
Construction workers jump from buildings, policemen shoot themselves and teenage girls use their hair pins as weapons.
The media begins to assume its terrorism, while others debate it might have natural causes and Shyamalan does his best pseudo-Hitchcock impersonation relishing in the creepy factor raised by the unknown.
The story then moves to Philadelphia (where else?) where high school science teacher Elliot Moore(Wahlberg) listens about the event and flees town with his wife Alma (Deschanel), his friend Julian (Leguizamo) and his little daughter Jess (Sanchez).
When their train makes an unexpected stop they realize they're on their own and must travel cross country until the event ends and before they perish.
The acting is appalling, the writing lazy, to say the least, and together they end up with a weird plant raiser (Frank Collison) saying "You know, hot dogs get a bad rep. They gotta cool shape, they got protein." while all everyone else can think of is running away.
Wahlberg seems stale and zombie like, or out of "The Blob", Leguizamos is satisfying and Deschanel seems to be so aware of the garbage dialogue she's given that she doesn't even try to hold back her mocking smile.
Audiences familiar with Shyamalan will be expecting a surprise twist (which isn't completely fair of them to expect or of him to feed) and while that moment arrives they will undoubtedly try to figure out what the hell is actually going on.
Things that might pop in your head might include extraterrestrial attacks, some sort of lazy metaphor for not thinking before we act, bees (don't ask) or even the preposterous idea that the disaster is only deviced to aid the leads realize that they do love each other.
This time around, unable to sustain his egocentric charade long enough for us to care, Shyamalan tries to deliver his own philosophical take on what we're doing to the planet and before you can say "an inconvenient fool", his preachy message has made Al Gore look like the most subtle speaker out there.
But while apathy, irresponsible behavior towards the planet and the unbeknownst future of the human race are things that provoke fear, the only thing that induces terror in "The Happening" comes off in the opening credits when the words "Written, Produced and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan" appear.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

well jose ive got to agree with you on this review. it was very entertaining to read. the acting in this film was laughable. and i dont mean that as a hyperbole...i acutally laughed several times. i like what you said about Zoe too. she CAN act if she wants to but why try when youre given lines like, "people are crappy sometimes..." you know what i mean. Leguizamo and the hotdog man were the most believable.
-mark

Michael Parsons said...

It is kind of sad that such a serious worldwide concern is made laughable by someone who says they care.

You have saved me ticket money. I thank you.

Now you MUST participate in my blog-a-thon

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