Stupid movie of the Summer (meaning stupid movie of all the ones I watched this summer which did not include Transformers 2, which I have not seen and do not plan to): The Happening
Otherwise known as “Ooohhh, scary trees” which would have been a better title than what they came up with. The Happening. Really? That’s what you got? Something’s …. happening? Perhaps we can distract you from the awfulness of our title with this shot of wind through the trees? No? Well, how about this close up oon Zoey Deschanel’s eyes, looking like she’s ready to cry … ok now? Ok? Good …
The story is stupid. The trees want to kill us. And they do it by making us kill ourselves. M’k, I guess I can accept that as the plot of a B movie. At least the title told us that this movie was wearing the stupid as a hat, not trying to hide it. And the thing that really sells this movie is Mark Wahlberg’s “acting.” He’s ok running, ordering other people to run, and watching sad things, like people laying down in front of lawn mowers (yes, really). The talking? Um … obviously, he knew he was playing a science teacher, and he was channeling every too-hip-for-the-room high school teacher on network television in 1985.
Now, I like M. Night Shyalaman. I even liked The Village and Lady in the Water. This one? I actually kind of love it, but it is a really, really bad movie. At no point in this movie do you ever look at anything any of the characters do and think to yourself, “yeah, that makes sense.” Look, people, when nature’s trying to kill you, do not seek shelter by running away from the room into a forest-ringed meadow. That’s just asking for trouble. And please, if you know suicide is the major risk, you might want to make sure no one has a firearm, like, oh, the soldier who is carrying the firearm right in plain sight.
And when Betty Buckley shows up as the crazy lady who’s lived alone in a scary house for years with no contact with the outside world and does not know what is “happening?” It just goes waaay so far out the stupid end that it circles back around and ends up at awesome, which is an amazing feat, and I’m sure, not really what they were intending.
And that’s the thing. Shyalaman thinks he’s making a serious movie with an important point. I have the feeling Wahlberg does too. John Leguizamo is cashing a paycheck. Zoey Deschanel is … you know, Zoey is awesome no matter what she does so I am not even going to fault her, except to say I think perhaps her extreme vegan/no soy/gluten allergic diet may have started affecting her brain.
But it entertained me. And I am tempted to put it on my “to own someday” list. There’s a lot going wrong here, but I think enough went wrong that it all came together as something horrifically, gloriously, right.