The Happening (2008)
Reviewed on 2008 July 11
I’ve heard some unfounded criticisms of The Happening and, without tipping Shyamalan’s hand for him, the biggest gripe seemed to be the main way in which it differed from his other movies. I noticed that, but that’s okay, because that’s not the sole factor that made his other stuff good. The big problem is that this one really didn’t seem to go anywhere. It was the cinematic equivalent of packing your bags for a big overseas trip and finding out your spouse is taking you camping. In your back yard.
Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) is a devoted high school science teacher, trying his best to get his jaded New York students interested in the plight of the disappearing honey bees. He is interrupted by an administrator saying that something dreadful — a bio-weapon terrorist attack? — happened in Central Park, and the schools are going to close for the day. As he and his colleague Julian (John Leguizamo) learn, the horrifying incidents appear to be spreading.
The casting is odd here; I had a hard time envisioning John Leguizamo as a math teacher. With his personality, he reminds me more of your favorite speech or drama coach — but he did it. The rest of the acting was largely wooden, though during the teaching sequences Wahlberg was funny and very good. More problems came when a unique idea gave way to one of the oldest clichés in the book and ultimately an anticlimactic ending. If you’ve seen The Sixth Sense you know this thing could have packed a much bigger wallop.
One chocolate morsel, and some diner pie and coffee. I wish Night would go back to his roots and write a pure horror story about a yamdoot.