Friday, June 27, 2008

It's All (not) Happening


Eberto the Pirate says "Arr, there be spoilers ahead. These be dangerous waters. Mind your spinnakers!"

THE HAPPENING - A Tale of Trite Shite

"Class, welcome to Great Directing 101. This week, we're discussing the concept of denouement. Now who can tell me what denouement means? Steven? Marty? Wilder? Clint? Oh fine, Alfred."

(class groans, murmurs of "teacher's pet" abound)

"Professor Kubrick, it means the final resolution of the intricacies of a plot, as of a drama or novel."

"Good, good, Alfred. Now, let's discuss examples. M Night, can you give me an example of the proper use of denouement? M Night? Has anybody seen M Night? Dang it. This'll come back to bite him one day. Ok, let's move on. Joel, Ethan, can you give me an example?"


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Oh, THE HAPPENING. How I wish thee had not been a bad movie. How I wish that you had lived up to thine wonderful opening scenes. Those bodies falling like raindrops,the calm of shoving a knitting needle through a jugular, the idyllic, foreboding images of nature. The first five minutes or so were excellent. Then Marky Mark opened his mouth and everything began to fall apart.

I wonder if Marky Mark was thrust upon M Night, or if M Night chose Marky Mark. Either way, it turned out bad. He simply can't carry a movie. He has one emotion - incredulity. Fortunately for him, it helped in some scenes - that was the required emotion. But incredulity can only carry you so far. The unfortunate part is that Jon Leguizamo was excellent, if wasted. His role is far too limited, as if M Night didn't want him stealing scenes from Marky Mark. Zooey Deschanel is wonderful, of course, and her bright blue eyes dominate the screen.

I do think, though, that THE HAPPENING could have survived Marky Mark. But the story is really the low point of the film, and not even Zooey's eyes can save that. It's almost as if M Night (who my boss at work calls "Midnight" as if the M stands for Mid) came up with the concept and figured that the kinks would just get worked out along the way - "An ending? Don't bother me with details!"

Here's the plot in a nutshell: People start committing suicide en masse, and no one knows why. Marky Mark, his wife Zooey, and their buddy's young daughter attempt to flee from New England to escape what's HAPPENING. They progress in smaller and smaller groups until they are alone and assured that they too, will die. (SPOILER) They don't. Everyone lives happily ever after. What was killing everybody? You guessed it, the plants. The plants are mad that people are mistreating the earth, so they start killing folks (actually, getting people to kill themselves). We find all of this out in a third act that lasts all of four minutes - very reminiscent of Speilberg's crappy WAR OF THE WORLDS. In fact, the whole of THE HAPPENING is reminiscent of WoTW. So much so that Stevie might want to check out some plagiarism lawyers.

Oh, M Night can still build suspense. There are some excellent, tense scenes. They effects are nice - a guy gets run over buy a riding lawnmower, etc. There's a really great scene involving three individual suicides with the same gun.

M Night's strength has always been that he's an excellent storyteller, but I'm afraid he's lost his mojo. The movie really feels like a student assignment - "Do a film about global warning. Make it a metaphor." 2 Marky Marks out of five.

(Sorry Kevin)

3 comments:

the hamster said...

johnny john wahlbarber - i will agree with you on three things:

1) plagarism - that lawnmower scene echoes one of the more beautiful moments in King's novel MISERY.

2) marky mark - this guy is great in the action films. loved him in SHOOTER. he's really good in any movie that only requires him to wear tight shirts and shoot guns.

3) zooey's peepers - i mean, hallelujah! nothing screams the great end of man like a pretty set of ocular balls.

also, sir, i am very interested how i would have felt about this movie had i not gone and churched out in the theatre there. chatting this up with you the other night was really great. it made me question things in new light, reconsider some of the scenes and elements i just gobbled up cause i was on the worship team and i've been taught to not question the band leader. went back and watched DOGMA last week and it did nothing for me. the alanis scene still got me, but the rest of the film was a wash. i may very well see THE HAPPENING again in a few months and think, what a piece. but it may also live on as some great epiphany giver that i needed at the time. who knows? but i dig the vast difference of experiences you and i had with this film. that's the fun of art, to me. and this bloggerian excursion into those experiences.

shit, man, people should be paying us to be this brilliant.

Pass the Fist said...

Shooter blows goats. I watched in on a flight last year and couldn't wait for the seatbelt light to go off so I could get up.

Zooey's eyes kill me. ELF kills me mostly because of her, not so much Will Farrell. I should write a whole post of Farrell and why he's not that funny. Or maybe why Anchorman is pretty funny, and his Funny or Die stuff is pretty great, and Stranger than Fiction was brilliant, but most of his career is dumb.

danielle said...

Ya mnite ain't doin' so well. I was hoping that he had learned since the lady in the water mess. Sigh... looks like he didn't...