MOVIE: The Happening (2008)

thehappening1I don’t typically bother writing reviews of movies I didn’t finish watching, but man, in this case, I feel it is my responsibility to tell you NOT TO RENT THIS.  Save yourselves!

Of course, it’s my own damn fault — it’s not like I need YOU to tell me that.  I remember when this movie came out and all the critics panned it.  I remember it like it was yesterday, in fact.  But since when do critics and I ever agree on anything (except for Roger Ebert, of course, who has an adorable affection for crap just like I do).  But I continued to hold out hope that they were just M. Night hataz and that it might be bad but still entertaining.  Many of M. Night’s movies ARE bad but still watchable, right?  Signs?  I loved Signs!  All that alien stuff was totally stupid — do not get me started — but it was still FUN.  Maybe this is just Signs starring Marky Mark?  It’s possible, right?

But this one?  IS JUST PLAIN BAD.

The reasons why are too many to list, so I’m going to narrow it down to two to spare you having to partake of a twelve-page rant on a Monday.  The two, in brief, are:  1) the worst casting job of all time, and B) angry plants.

I can barely even bring myself to talk about the angry plants.  Really?  ANGRY PLANTS?  I didn’t watch the whole movie, as I said earlier, so I don’t know the entire story here, but my guess based on Wahlberg’s opening scene (talking to a bunch of students about the mysterious disappearance of bees) plus a scene later where he was trying to calm a plant down so it wouldn’t release the toxin that was driving everyone to kill themselves, is that we humans have done so much damage to our planet that the plants have decided to revolt to save themselves.  Whether this is an active decision on their part, or just a combination of toxins in the air changing the plants’ chemistry into something even more toxic than the original toxins, I have no idea.  I didn’t get that far.  But no matter what, this was just plain stupid.  It didn’t make any scientific sense — it was just an excuse to preach about global warming, and one not well thought-through at all.  Dumb arguments about global warming do more harm than good, if you ask me. It’s not going to work like this, people!

In other words, bite me, M. Night Shymalamadingdong, or however you spell your last name.  Thanks for your contribution (again!) to the world of scientific ignorance.

But honestly?  I could’ve probably stuck around for the entire movie despite the extreme lameness of the overall plot (it’s not like I’m that picky when it comes to plots, after all) had it not been for the absolutely heinously bad casting of this film.  Mark Wahlberg is just ridiculous in his part as a high school science teacher with a troubled marriage (really?  MARKY MARK as a high school science teacher?  When I see him in my head, HE IS STILL ONLY WEARING UNDERPANTS).  Even worse?  The casting of Zooey Deschanel, WHO I LOVE, in her role as his miserable, maudlin, maddeningly-miscast wife.

Zooey Deschanel should not play miserable and maudlin.  That’s just seventeen kinds of wrong right there.  You take one look at her face with those big awesome eyes and you just want her to make you laugh, like she so often does.  Whoever picked her for this movie needs to be kicked in the shins.  HARD.  And then they need to apologize to me.

THIS MOVIE IS TEH HORRIBLE.  Why am I still talking about it?  I’m not!  I’m not talking about it anymore!  I’m done!  Goodbye!

[Don’t Netflix Me | Buy Me?!  ARE YOU NUTS? I’m not even giving you the link for this one.]

Genre: Crap
Cast:  Zooey Deschanel, Marky Mark, John Leguizamo, and I don’t give a frak who else.

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29 Responses to “MOVIE: The Happening (2008)”

  1. Jessie Says:

    Wow. I guess it’s official — my husband and I are the only people on earth who didn’t hate this movie. I feel kind of special now. (No, not that kind of “special”!)

    I dunno… I guess I just still have to give M. Night a chance. And I still appreciate how his movies aren’t ever what they claim to be about. Despite the ridiculous, completely unscientific nature of the plot, the movie is really about people. People, who I will admit, were indeed miscast.

    But — I’m not here to defend this movie. I didn’t like it THAT much.

    But I did really like the line, “Gardens don’t grow like they should. Never have.” Ain’t it the truth???

  2. megwood Says:

    You’re not alone, Jessie! Roger Ebert gave it three stars! THREE! It only made me love him all the more.

    So true about gardens. Mine in particular!

  3. alisa Says:

    I’ve given up on Mr. Night ShamWow movies. I completely hated The Village, and I made the mistake of giving him another chance in Lady in the Water, but I was sadly, sadly dispointed then also, so I haven’t even watched The Happening. My hubby did though and Jessie you are not alone he liked it also.

  4. Verna Says:

    Amen, sister! I was kinda looking forward to seeing this one. I loved “Signs”, cheese and all. But this, this was just torture. They hyped it up like it was going to be great. And, “His first R rated movie!” What crap, that was just an excuse to put a lot of gore in it. I did watch until the end. You did right, and you didn’t miss anything. Another wasted two hours of my life!

  5. Lizzie Says:

    RATS! I do have this movie in my “queue” for Netflix, and now I don’t know what to do! I kind of liked “The Village,” but I never saw “Lady in the Water.” This one looked good, but I’ll probably be disappointed with it too. Oh well, it will probably be another in a long line of movies about which I should have heeded Meg’s warning.

    On the plus side, I’ve gotten all bogged down with Netflix because I rented all the “Firefly” discs, and I am now A CONVERT! Now I see why fans were so distraught when the show wasn’t given more of a chance. It was such a cool idea, and it was so well done! But I’m stuck, because I haven’t seen them all yet! (N.B. I’m still a little wary of Nathan Fillion, because he was SO EVIL as “Caleb” on “Buffy!”)

  6. Trip Says:

    Before I begin, I must reiterate: “Firefly” is teh awesome.

    That said, M. Night has definitely proven his shark has been jumped with this one, which BTW Meg, all: you have to admit had its great unintentionally funny moments. The spooky shots of…trees in the wind. That eeeeeeerie wind. People running from the wind! Which way? That way! Quick!

    By the end I totally wanted to see a War on Trees declared with a massive retaliatory strike like in War of the Worlds – the only good tree is a DEAD tree, muthaf**ka! Napalm sticks to twigs!

    I saw the twist in The Village coming from about a mile and a half off, same with this one. It was lamer than crawling into a fridge to escape a massive H-bomb 10 miles away. I think what made it worse was how earnest and serious it was, without a hint of self-awareness at how ridiculous it came off on screen…

  7. Brie Says:

    Aww Lizzie! Yay, to finding the Firefly love!

  8. megwood Says:

    Yeah, I think a huge part of this movie’s problem was taking itself too seriously. That Signs was funny was what saved it for me, despite its flawed storyline. Love your idea for the ending, Trip — they should definitely consult you first next time.

    PLANTS ARE NOT SCARY. I will not say this again.

  9. alisa Says:

    Some plants are scary…

    How about Little Shop of Horrors?? LMAO

  10. Trip Says:

    Maybe if The Happening was made as a comedy it might have had more traction. Could have been a cool vehicle for environmental jokes on both sides, hammy overacting, biting satire of Hollywood with the trees-as-threats motif…

    After this, I have a hard time seeing how M. Night gets another movie greenlighted…Sixth Sense was nine years ago, and while it was good, it doesn’t have those kinds of coattails.

    Parody time! Submit your next movie idea for M.Night:

    * Paul Giamatti is a reclusive math teacher who may be on the verge of discovering the final digit in Pi…only spoooooky things start happening when he gets closer. Chocolate tastes like bacon, toilet water swirls the opposite way, Sarah Palin gets her own show…basic stuff signalling the destruction of the universe stuff…also starring Rachel McAdams as his disproportionately hot girlfriend to provide the looks of horror, cute math-nerd kid role is TBD.

  11. megwood Says:

    Joaquin Phoenix plays Ned, a washed-up former chess champion who recently befriended an odd creature that looks like a human being covered in sheep’s wool and has taken up residence in Ned’s bathroom. Ned is bored, and one night in an attempt to have some fun, he challenges the odd creature to a game of Quarters. Ned loses every round, eventually downing an entire bottle of Peach Schnapps in under thirty minutes flat.

    And it’s then that he realizes the truth about his new friend. His new sheep-man friend is DEAD! Yet Ned can see him!

    HE SEES DEAD SHEEPLE!!

    Before Ned even has time to process this information, the Peach Schnapps makes him begin to vomit violently. But, yay! The vomiting saves Ned’s life, as it turns out the aliens had been systematically poisoning all the Peach Schnapps on the planet for quite some time.

    Later, Ned finds himself face-to-face with one of the aliens. When the alien remarks on how cute Ned’s butt is, Ned throws a drink (of Schnapps) in its face, and the alien immediately turns to dust. It’s then that Ned realizes why the aliens had been poisoning the Schnapps — uncontaminated Peach Schnapps is the only way to kill them!

    (Why they came to a planet literally COVERED in peach Schnapps, I have no idea. Ask them.)

    In the meantime, Ned is haunted by visions of people hanging from wind-swaying trees. One of them is M. Night himself in a small cameo role, and another one is Alfred Hitchcock, same deal. Fleeing the horrific images, Ned boards a train, which promptly crashes, killing everyone on board. . . EXCEPT FOR NED.

    And then the zombies show up. At least, they will if this movie is going to be any good. . .

  12. Trip Says:

    I said it was parody time, not “Here’s my dream from last night” time!

  13. megwood Says:

    Dude, when you live in my brain, those two often go hand-in-hand.

  14. Lizzie Says:

    ROTFLMAO! You two are the greatest! My idea is more along the lines of “Day of the Triffids.” Ordinary house-wife (“starter wife Debra Messing?) tries to cut down weeds in front of her house that are growing at an alarming rate, and even getting through some of the windows (note – the window part actually happened to me!). However, the weeds get mad, and grow back even faster, and soon start to plot to take over the world. Of course, they can’t accomplish this without the help of those ever-reliable zombies! The lead zombie could be played by Tony Todd! Or Michael Duncan Clarke.

  15. megwood Says:

    That kind of reminds me of that story “The Plant” that Stephen King tried to “sell” in installments on the web as a social experiment. He wanted to see how many people would pay for it if they could just as easily get it for free. And then got all peeved when, wonder of wonders, most people preferred the freebie route. He pulled the story before finishing it because he was so mad. I have not forgiven him since. Wanker.

    I bet his version wasn’t going to have zombies in it, though. Lizzie, I think you have your novel for next year’s National Novel Writing Month! JOIN US (me and Eva are doing it this year!).

    Btw, as I was writing this review, I thought to myself, “I bet you fifty bucks Lizzie rents this one anyway.” Tell me when I owe myself some dough, yes? (And also, what you think when you finally see it!)

  16. Alisa Says:

    Here’s my movie plot….. (Names and places have been changed to protect the inicent)

    8yrs ago the American People voted in A. Total Dum-ass (played by Gary Busey). President Dum-ass starts a war w/a country that doesn’t want our way of life, and proceeds to drain our economy sending us in a near depression. The country we’re fighting w/holds back our oil supply and gas prices soar, and people crumble w/out their fueled up humvies, and land rovers. Obesity soars because food prices are so high, and fast food is so cheap.

    but what people don’t know is that the gas and fast food is made out of zombie cow disease. The disease is quick to take hold, and the population of zombies are out of control. And the only one that can save them is Will Smith.

    And that’s as far I got. 🙂 Although I don’t know about you, but I think the plot does sound a little familiar, No?

  17. Lizzie Says:

    Alisa, I love it, I love it! ROTFLMAO! ZOMBIE COW DISEASE! That’s brilliant!

  18. Anonymous Says:

    but, but, but…… where are the zombie sharks? you can’t have a movie without zombie sharks

    Oh, and if you love Firefly, what did you think of Slither? Zombie DEER!!!!!!

  19. Haidee Says:

    the above anon was from me, I forgot to log in first.

    Oh, and if you manage to find a move caled Sars Wars grab it and look after it like a long lost child. It’s Taiwanese (I think) with subtitles and just hysterically bad. Zombie babies, zombie snakes, weird mystics and the Sars virus all mixed in. That and the ‘made in Taiwan’ injokes are killer.

  20. Lizzie Says:

    Okay, boys and girls, I finally saw this movie, and what I have to say is: poor M.Night Sham-a-lot! The sad thing is, he almost had a good idea. I think the idea of the wind in the trees being scary was that he was trying to find an image that seemed completely innocuous, and then have it gradually turn into something scary. It worked for me (probably unintentionally) in “Night of the Living Dead” – I STILL associate the sound of chirping crickets with the walking dead!

    And I don’t know if it was really miscast, so much as mis-written. I thought Mark Wahlberg was doing a darn good impression of Dennis Quaid! And Zooey Deschanel (who doesn’t look at all like her sister, Emily, from “Bones”) was just doing her Zooey Deschanel thing. If they had had some better dialogue, and more interesting character development, they would have been fine. Actually, I thought John Leguizamo was okay – probably because he usually annoys me, and here he was kind of insipid!

    But here’s the saddest part: what was supposed to be a chilling scene of construction workers jumping off buildings to their death just reminded me of a Monty Python skit about sheep that think they can fly, and keep jumping out of trees: “Baaaaa”….Bump! So I really had to try hard not to laugh. Same thing for the video scene where the zoo-keeper lets the animals tear off his arms. I kept thinking of a Monty Python bit where everyone is cavorting around a country club, trying to play tennis, and all their limbs keep coming off, and stupid-looking blood spurts everywhere! Then there was the scene (in this movie) where various people keep picking up a gun, and you hear a shot, and then the person falls down – well, you get the idea.

    As I indicated before, I really feel sorry for M. Night. Every movie he made after “The Sixth Sense” (which I LOVED) was a little less good – but I still think that part of the fault was the misguided expectations of movie-goers. However, this movie just didn’t work.

    So many possible ideas to explore that were ignored! Like, what was up with the Betty Buckley character? She’s usually sickeningly sweet, but here she seemed to be channeling Glenn Close from “Fatal Attraction.” I wanted to know what had made her that way, and for a second, I thought she was going to be revealed as the mastermind behind all the plant attacks! I also thought they should have delved deeper into the paranoia of the unseen people in that house, and those 2 poor boys that were gunned down. And a near-perfect zombie opportunity was wasted! Phooey!

    Okay – enough ranting! One other piece of news: the first casualty of the yearly “Let’s not give this show a chance to develop” Syndrome has been announced, and it’s “My Own Worst Enemy!” That’s the one NBC was so sure of, and “Eleventh Hour,” which looked like it was going to fold early and die, has been doing better and better in the ratings! Go figure! Oh, “Lipstick Jungle” got the boot too, but does anyone care?

  21. megwood Says:

    Oh my god, Lizzie, the sheep skit! SO TRUE! I am currently thirty seconds from death because I’m laughing so hard I cannot breathe.

    I’m PISSED about My Own Worst Enemy. Damn you, Curse of Meg Wood!!

  22. alisa Says:

    My hubby just heard yesterday that MOWE has been picked up for another season.

    I’m pissed that they took Sock off the air!!!!!!

  23. megwood Says:

    What?? NBC just announced MOWE’s cancellation 4-5 days ago! Are you sure its cancellation has been canceled?

    You lost me with “Sock,” though. Do you mean “Reaper”? It’s coming back, just not until January, I think.

  24. alisa Says:

    Maybe my hubby heard wrong, but on Sunday he told me that My Own was picked up for another season.

    Yes i do mean Reaper, but I thought it was gone. YEA!!!!!!!!! It’s coming back.

  25. megwood Says:

    Alas, I think he’s wrong, Alisa. I’m not finding anything on the web about it, aside from the news it’s been canceled. Too bad!

  26. Lizzie Says:

    I love “Reaper” too – and my husband has a theory about the parents of the Reaper-Guy (OMG! I forgot the name of the lead – but I do remember “Sock!”). Anyway, he thinks that the Devil’s son is actually the father of – oh now I remember – Sam! Right or wrong, there is definitely something wonky going on!

    I stopped watching MOWE immediately, when I heard it was being canceled, because I was afraid I’d start to like it too much. Now I’m really confused – and don’t go saying “so what else is new?”

  27. alisa Says:

    The Devil is SOOOOO Sam’s father.

  28. megwood Says:

    The Devil is sooooooo good lookin’.

    I’m totally going to Hell for saying that, aren’t I.

  29. alisa Says:

    I’m right in the handbasket w/you Meg.

    Wait I’m Jewish, can I go to hell??? LMAO But wait I was also baptist (father’s Catholic). I’ll right I’m just confused now……

    That’s right Devil’s cute.

    On the other hand Castiel from Supernatural is hot to. Can you go to heaven if you say that an Arch Angel is hot????

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