Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Happening - A Kind of Review

M. Night S's (If he hasn't the time to spell out his first name, I haven't the time to spell out his last.) movies are no longer getting steadily worse. There is no way any movie could be as bad as Lady in the Water. (I rented that one at the behest of an ex-girlfriend. I could be clever and say that was the reason that led to our break up; however, that would be giving Mr. MNS too much credit. And I am steadfastly opposed to giving his ego any more fuel.)

This is not to say The Happening is a return to form of his first two major films. In fact, it only retreats back to the level of crappiness that was The Village. Here's my gripe. I don't think he can direct actors. Bruce Willis is decent at what he does. Samuel L Jackson, the same, as well as Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix. But how he actually sabotaged William Hurt and Paul Giamati with some of the crummiest dialogue ever is simply evil. It is horrifying. It is as if he should film himself ruining actors; that would be far scarier than what he is actually making movies about.

He doesn't have much to ruin in The Happening. Mark Walberg can't act very well. He seems like a jock in high school who takes a theater class in high school to get chicks, but ends up liking theater a lot, but ultimately has no talent, so his earnestness is cute for two minutes and then just turns into pathetic. Zooey Deschanel, I've liked her in every role that I've seen her in. I never thought she had tons of talent, but her personality carries her a long way, in my estimation. (And she is way cuter than her older sister.) And still, she is just wasted in this movie. The actor that came across the best was John Leguizamo, but he wasn't particularly good either. Betty Buckley's part had the potential to be a very interesting character, but MNS seems determined to turn all the forest's trees into cardboard.

Cardboard is actually a bit generous. More like a pulpy Big Chief tablet page. (That's not quite it, either. I have a fond nostalgia for the Big Chief tablets.) More like East German toilet paper. He takes something that is supposed to be good and usable, and turns it into an inadequate simulacrum of utility that is also a pain in the ass.

MNS is upset with the world. At our lack of respect for the magic all around us. At our lack of appreciating the beauty of life and the people who care for us. Instead of making movies to inspire us to do better in the stewardship of our planet and encouraging responsibility for our families and communities, he has decided to punish us... by making us watch his god-awful movies. (I really did like Unbreakable, though.)