Saturday, June 14, 2008

Not Happening

The New York Times and one or two other outlets were tolerably amused, but otherwise The Happening has gotten pretty vicious reviews--worse than M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, which I did see, and Lady in the Water, which I flicked through on cable. But I don't think I've ever read a pan this nasty. It's the kind of thing you expect to read on a frothing-at-the-mouth blog (not this one, of course), not in The New Republic.

As the reviewer explains, it's not really a critique, just a bunch of spoilers designed to make the film look as foolish as possible, to scare off any potential viewers. It didn't have much effect on me: The (terrible) non-title (is it an extended rock video of the great Diana Ross and the Supremes hit of 1967? A remake of the Anthony Quinn/Faye Dunaway picture it came from?), the breathless advertising of the picture as its filmmaker's "first R-rated movie," and Shyamalan's decline, which I've seen with my own two eyes, already branded this as toxic. (All that, and Mark Wahlberg, who like aspirin is best taken in small doses, in the lead. He clearly sees the bad news ahead in those binoculars of his.) On principle, however, this strikes me as a pretty shabby takedown. Give us what we need to know, tell us what you thought, let the viewer decide, and get a conversation going. (Well, a more balanced one--the commentators are positively gleeful over its bellyflop.) Unless, of course, it's as bad as he says...

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