Movie Mom

Movie Mom


The Happening

posted by Nell Minow

happening.jpgHere’s a spooky story: a talented storyteller mesmerizes his audience and then loses his way in a thicket of self-regard so that no matter how hard he tries, each of the stories he tells becomes less powerful than the one before.

M. Night Shyamalan is one of the most talented film-makers working today. But he seems to be running out of ideas. He still knows how to use a camera brilliantly and he is still a master of images that are disturbing in an intriguing way. But so much of this movie seem greatest hits cut and pasted from his other, better films, as generic as the title (anyone else here humming the Supremes song?). There is a train as in “Unbreakable.” There is a scene in a schoolroom as in “The Sixth Sense.” A child is important to the story as in “The Sixth Sense” and “Signs.” Like “Signs” there is a scary scene with characters trapped in a beautiful old house in a remote location.

“There appears to be an event happening.” All at once, without warning, people in New York City’s Central park become disoriented and then self-destructive. They begin to kill themselves. Bodies come hurtling from the girders of a construction project. A cop pulls out his gun and kills himself. Others grab the gun lying near his body to shoot themselves with the remaining bullets. Have terrorists released toxins into the air? Is it some kind of alien attack? No one knows.

In Philadelphia, high school science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) is called out of class. The students are being sent home. He and his best friend Julian (John Leguizamo), a math teacher, decide it will be safer away from the city. Julian’s wife is out of town but will meet up with them. Elliot’s slightly estranged wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) comes along but insists on sitting alone. Then, in the middle of nowhere, the train stops. “We’ve lost contact,” the conductor tells them. “With whom?” “Everyone.”

Julian goes in search of his wife, leaving his shy daughter with Elliot. And so Elliot, Alma, and the little girl go on the run, not knowing anything about what it is they are running from or where they are running to.

Many of the individual scenes deliver. Shyamalan knows how to create an eerie mood and when to pepper the story with release, whether a gasp or a laugh. But there is some unintentional humor as Elliot and Alma pause to resolve their marital conflicts, natter about a mood ring, and Elliot tries to make conversation with a potted plastic plant. The talented Wahlberg and Deschanel do their best but cannot make much of an impression with cardboard characters and clunky exposition. Wahlberg manages some warmth now and then but Deschanel has little do to but open her eyes wide. Those blue eyes seem to be Shyamalan’s favorite special effect. The exposition is intrusively inserted and clumsily handled. And in the last half hour, just as things should be ramping up, all of the air rushes out like a stuck balloon. Shyamalan does not always have to deliver a twist, but he does have to deliver an ending better than this one.

Parents should know that this movie has a good deal of violence, some graphic, multiple suicides, shooting death of teenagers, mauling by an animal, some grisly images of wounds and dead bodies, disturbing themes including the deaths of hundreds of people, and brief strong language. There is a sexual joke and there are some mild references to infidelity.

Family discussion: Julian has to make a very difficult choice between protecting his wife and protecting his daughter. What were the reasons for the decision he made and do you agree? What other choices made by the people in this movie seemed right or wrong to you?

If you like this, try: Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” the classic thriller “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (the original and first remake) and M. Night Shyamalan movies “The Sixth Sense” and “Signs”



Previous Posts

Is This the End of Television?
Last week both cable giant HBO and broadcast giant CBS made announcements that signal the end of television as we know it.  Both responded to the clear message of the market and said that they would make their content available in the form and via the delivery system consumers prefer -- the interne

posted 3:24:08pm Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Dylan Baker on Directing for the First Time in the Fact-Based High School Football Movie "23 Blast"
Dylan Baker is probably best remembered for playing some of the most horrific villains imaginable ("The Good Wife," "Happiness").  But his extensive career has included wild comedies ("Planes, Trains, and Automobiles," "Anchorman 2"), historical drama (he was Robert McNamara in "13 Days"), and even

posted 8:00:11am Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Best Movies About Writers
Flavorwire has put together a great list of the 50 best movies about writers. It's always tricky to make a writer interesting on film. On one hand, you have the advantage of a character who is likely to be witty and eloquent. Movies are written by writers, so they have some insight and appreciatio

posted 3:37:07pm Oct. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Great News About Now You See Me 2
You didn't think Arthur Tressler was going to let them get away with it, did you? I am very happy that one of the most entertaining films of 2013, Now You See Me is getting a sequel and the stars, including Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Michael Caine, and Woody Harrelson, are back, alo

posted 8:00:59am Oct. 21, 2014 | read full post »

In the Footsteps of St. Peter
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4c7qh9hMVY[/youtube] David Suchet (PBS' Hercule Poirot) is the host of In the Footsteps of St. Peter, out tomorrow on DVD.

posted 3:55:57pm Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.