Well, that was interesting.
This morning, because I said I would, I went to go see The Happening. There were about 25 other people there, which is kind of surprising for a 10:30am screening of a movie whose biggest selling point is Mark Wahlberg's confused face (which, coincidentally, is also Mark Wahlberg's at-rest face, as well as his making-a-joke face) and the fact that it's rated R.
As far as I could tell (Spoiler Alert!), no one left the theater saying, "Gosh, that was a really fun B-movie!" as M. Night Shyamalan predicted they would. But, then again, judging by the thoroughly tone-deaf and choppy dialogue in the film, it's not the first time Shyamalan has been totally awful at putting words into people's mouths. Doomsday is a fun B-Movie. The Wha?!? is a frustratingly dumb, thoroughly dull, and remarkably tension-free B-Movie.
The first scene, when a bunch of people in Central Park suddenly and oh-so-mysteriously freeze, was supposed to establish the sense of dread and fear that would carry through the whole movie. After all, this is a thriller, right? Instead, that scene felt more like this, but with the added hilarity (no, really) of colorful suicides:
And it was only downhill from there. 1000 shots of emoting trees later, it was over. Or was it?? (Hint: yes, it was).
And now for some The Happening superlatives:
Best Acting By A Piece Of Wood: Tie between Mark Wahlberg and the angry maple tree with the swing. Has Mark Wahlberg always been this bad, or was it just the fact that Shyamalan made him say things like, "The toxin?" (15 excruciating seconds later) "The toxin is affecting them?" and "See, ma'am. I'm a science teacher." All of his lines might as well have been, "Duh duh duh." He was so stiff in this movie that the reason why the (Spoiler Alert) gases emitted by the evil trees didn't affect him was probably because the trees thought he was one of their own.
Most Hilarious Suicide: The viral video of the zookeeper feeding himself to the lions. It's really obvious why everyone fleeing death is still sending that video around to each other: it's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen.
Most Overused Word In The Movie: Event. As in "It's just some kind of event." And "An event is happening." No one, outside of party planners, uses the word "event" that much, and, really, no one would ever use it to describe a bunch of people killing themselves throughout the Northeast. People simply don't talk like that. "Something is happening," yes. "It's some kind of attack," yes. "We have to wait till this event is over," no. The Oscars (or the Razzies, M. Night!) is an "event." Angry trees releasing suicide chemicals is not.
Greatest Use Of Logic: The newscaster at the end's response to the scientist who explains that this EVENT was an act of nature, and we'll never understand it: "Maybe we could believe you, if this also happened anywhere else." Right. What?
Biggest Unanswered Question In The Movie: From crazy ol' Mrs. Jones: "Why you eyein' my lemon drink?"
Biggest Unanswered Question From The Audience: "What's the deal with Mrs. Jones?" Runners-up: "Seriously, what the fuck?" "Give me a break." (Not a question, but something that should be addressed nonetheless), and "Why is this a movie?"