Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Happening (2008)

We just moved, the Tanuki family did, and while we're waiting for our stuff to arrive we're sort of catching up on some movies we missed. M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening is one of them.

This is it: I'm now officially getting off the bus with this guy. I'm stubborn enough that I've stuck with him over his last three, very uneven, films on the strength of his first two. I loved Sixth Sense as much as anybody, really liked Unbreakable, had problems with Signs but was generally on board, was maybe the only person I knew besides the Mrs. who liked The Village, and don't really remember Lady in the Water. Mrs. S.T. says I hated it.

I think everybody else gave up on him with The Village; like I say, I'm stubborn. If an artist gives me pleasure I'll cut him or her a lot of slack. But with The Happening I ran out of rope (does that even rise to the level of a mixed metaphor?).

First of all, it has some of the stupidest dialogue I've ever heard in a movie - poor Marky Mark, so much the best thing about The Departed, tries desperately to believe in what he's saying, but obviously fails. John Leguizamo just looks like he's trying to get it over with. Zooey Deschanel just looks. None of the subplots work (who cares if she's being stalked? who cares if she and Marky Mark stay together?).

But what's worst is that there's absolutely no suspense. Say what you will about Shyamalan, he can usually create suspense. But here, once you figure out that The Plants Did It, you pretty much know how it has to end. That means that nothing that happens in the last hour of the movie means anything. All that business about the paranoid people shooting from the windows, and the Luddite lady with her Underground Railroad house - none of it matters. It's just filler, to make a feature-length film out of what would have been an okay half-hour Twilight Zone episode. And it feels like filler. Annoying.

Even Shyamalan's cameo (as Zooey Deschanel's off-screen stalker) is irritating. Too cute for its own good.


Cat said...

Wasn't this movie incredibly silly? And yet not campy enough to be fun. "The Plants Did It" could spawn at least as much entertainment as Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and here it really doesn't. I saw it in the movie theater with a friend, and we both marvelled at how much this movie did not work. And I think the idea (not the plant part but the zombie-like suicides part) should have been creepy. It wasn't, but it should have been

Tanuki said...

The suicides were sooo uncreepy, especially after we figured out that the plants were doing it. Because the whole stopping in your tracks, walking backwards bit couldn't possibly come from a chemical, could it? And so it, like everything else, just felt like a senseless distraction, not a clue. Arrgghh.