Knee-jerk review: "The Happening"

1. We cannot endorse this movie.
2. The concept is undeniably intriguing and deserves a big, epic movie to explore it. But this movie clocks in at about 90 minutes. That's not much time. The whole thing feels rushed and truncated. Where's the rest of it?
3. It takes a special kind of ineptitude to make Mark Wahlberg this bland and stilted. Putting him in a sweater vest doesn't help.
4. How is it that the toxin efficiently and swiftly affects a large group of pedestrians in Central Park... except for the one movie character who has to witness the whole thing with bug eyes?
5. In general, much of the movie rings phony. The characters don't seem genuine, what they say feels forced, and what they do strains credibility. That makes for a fairly painful experience as an audience member.
6. But Zooey Deschanel sure is smoking hot.
7. It's the kind of movie that suggests a character is a nerdy math teacher by giving him a tic in which he has to always push up his glasses on his nose. That's the sort of lame character shorthand you'd expect in a "Saturday Night Live" skit.
8. Can someone explain to us the purpose of the Betty Buckley character? Seriously, she had no point.
9. If you want to see a vivid, scary look at what might happen during the panicky few hours after a catastrophic disaster, go watch Cloverfield.
10. Like everything else, the R-rating feels forced. It's like the filmmakers crammed in a lot of gore and violence just to goose everything up to an R. You might think we're referring to the lawnmower scene, but no, the more upsetting bit involves the falling construction workers.
11. This probably isn't the career-ending flop for M. Night Shyamalan that some critics predict, but it does him no favors. And on the heels of the train wreck that was Lady in the Water, it futher sullies Shyamalan's reputation as a Hitchcock/Spielberg heir apparent. The best thing he probably could have done was stop making movies after Signs and gone into grumpy J.D. Salinger seclusion where he could be worshipped as an artistic genius based on a tiny sample.
12. To recap, Shyamalan's best film is without question The Sixth Sense. From there, things get subjective. The runner-up is probably Unbreakable, if only because the story sticks to its own strange logic and sells it. The Cheese Fry actually liked The Village, even with the insane twist ending. Signs gets a bad rap because of "swing away" and the glasses of water, but it's a scary, thoughtful movie until the final 10 minutes. Lady in the Water certainly goes at the bottom of the list, below even The Happening. So here's the ranking: 1. The Sixth Sense, 2. Unbreakable, 3. The Village, 4. Signs, 5. The Happening, 6. Lady in the Water.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:57 AM

    Zooey had me since Elf. Great little duet she did with Leon Redbone too.