Posted by: fritzfedora | January 5, 2011

The Happening

To start off, I should say that I wasn’t originally thinking of writing this review.  The experience of viewing the film was horrendous enough, and snippets and flashes of the film pervasively invade my thinking space like an unwelcome house guest.  I call this condition CPTSD: Cinematic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Why would I want to revisit this film?

Turns out, when my friend suggested I write the review, I was actually pretty giddy about it.  Nothing is more fun for a film geek than to make fun of a bad movie (even talking about your favorites).  There’s a bit of exorbitant jubilance and a sense of creative superiority at work here.  Bashing films we hate helps us maintain the illusion that we will never make a film that bad.  It’s nice.

So, I figured that since I hated the film so much, and the memory of 1st seeing it was still lingering quite potently in my brain, I thought I’d give trashing it a shot.  Here goes.  The film is a travesty in most senses of the word: its dialogue is equal in quality to a romantic scene in a Michael Bay film.  It’s performances… equal in quality to a romantic scene in a Michael Bay film.  And that’s surprising, given that Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel and John Leguizamo were all involved, and they’re usually reliable performers.  Not here.  Part of it may be the words they’re required to spew out; the writing here could just be making them reconsider the acting profession.  Wahlberg especially is tremendously embarrassing to watch: what made Shyamalan think Mark Wahlberg would be remotely believable as a high school science teacher?  Mark “Dirk Diggler” Wahlberg?  Wahlberg should only play badasses, tough guys, crooks or cops.  It’s what he’s good at.  Deschanel is just as bad, which is truly sad given my admiration for her work in All the Real Girls and 500 Days of Summer.  Her work here is shameful.  I’m less harsh on Leguizamo, because I actually don’t think he was that bad.

Like I said, the writing was horrible.  There is no other word I can use to express this fact.  That is all I have to say about the writing: horrible.  I hope that will suffice.

Shyamalan really enjoys the awkward close-up.  I say that because it’s used a borderline sadistic amount of times here.  I mean, my god, I know Deschanel has nice eyes, but I don’t need to focus on them every time she whines about having a meal with someone who wasn’t her husband.  OH NO!!! There’s almost legitimate drama in the script?  It had the potential to be an interesting subplot, and add something in the way of character dynamic, but Shyamalan backed away from that as soon as he brought in the wind.  That’s right, the wind.  Why in the hell is the wind a major evil force here?  Did a particularly harsh gust blow your leaf pile away when you were a child, M. Night?  Why the wind?  Couldn’t it have been something a little more fierce, like a widespread flu, or maybe the human population becoming overrun by a breakout of severe athlete’s foot?  Anything but the wind.  Sorry, there was a serious lack of dramatic tension here.  And the third act is a cheat and a copout.  The wind just stopped blowing?  That’s your way out of the conflict?  Letting nature just take its course and eventually just let the wind stop on its own accord?  What?  This is what happens when a serious antagonist is missing in a story.

All right, that’s pretty much what I have to say about that movie.  I won’t bash on Shyamalan, since I haven’t seen The Last Airbender or Lady in the Water, and can’t critique his supposed decline.  The Happening was undeniably heinous, though, and it took a viewing of  The Fighter for me to be able to forgive Wahlberg.  My recommendation is watch it, just so you can make fun of it later (What? No!!!).



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