Saturday, June 14, 2008

MOVIE: The Happening

I have readily confessed to being an M. Night Shyamalan fan. a) He made Unbreakable (a movie about comics before comics were cool,) b) He actually surprised me in The Sixth Sense, and c) his name sounds really cool if you say it quickly,

So it was with high expectations that I revisited Mr. Shyamalan's work and put down $5 of my hard earned loot to see his latest project: M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening.

Here's the short review: It should have been named: M. Night Shyamalan’s The CRAPppening. Would-be viewers should save their $5, money better spent on a Taco Bell cheesy double beef burrito. Not a good date flick. Not something anyone should expose their children to. Possibly the last nail in a once-entertain and brilliant man's coffin.

Following a rant, is my long review.

First, the rant. Nothing makes my stomach churn like the smell of an overflowing Port-O-Let in the middle of a Mississippi summer, EXCEPT the assertions of "Intelligent Design." The teleological argument is that organic life as we know it is so complex and exact in purpose that it (ie: "life") could not come about randomly, through some chaotic "theory of evolution." Nay, brother. Nay, I say. It had to be created by an "Intelligent Designer," with a purpose in mind. Right? Fundamentally, Intelligent Design replaces Nature (capital "N") with God (capital "G.")

Now, the review. M. Night Shyamalan’s The CRAPppening is a poorly disguised Trojan Horse filled with Intelligent Design invaders. Marky Mark isn't on the screen for two minutes before his character (Elliot Moore) proclaims to his young students that evolution "is just a theory." And, of course, he drags out the already-cliche-argument "acts of nature can never be fully explained." And the movie does not get any better from there.

I'll concede that there are some clever scenes of dead people. And scenes of living people becoming dead people.

There is an interesting idea lingering through out the film about Nature's ability to defend itself. Until I realize the allegory is that offending Nature is actually offending God, and Nature's wrath (in the form of a mighty, unstoppable, and inescapable wind) is actually God's wrath.

And there are a couple of humorous moments, mainly centered around a potentially crazy botanist and his wieners.

But the movie does even remotely approach its true potential. It doesn't show the collapse of society in any grand scope. It doesn't reveal any ghastly details of the supposed damage being done to Nature. It doesn't suggest any unusual or insightful cures to the repair the harm we've inflicted.

After the first scene of the Jews fleeing Egypt, I mean the characters escaping New York, the writing is predicable and boring. The dialog is useless and unsurprising. The limited special effects aren't able to support the rest of the movie's shortcomings. And the amazingly diverse collective of rapidly dwindling protagonists neither says nor does anything to make their soon-to-be-snuffed lives memorable. Nothing the characters say or do matters between the beginning and the end of the movie. They may as well just stood in place, saying nothing for an hour and some change. I would have been equally bored.

And, M. Night Shyamalan doesn't even give me the courtesy of a reacharound by providing some kind of mind-altering twist at the end. No, he doesn't. "Events like this, just... end... suddenly," he tells me. And the event ends.

But M. Night Shyamalan’s The CRAPppening doesn't end soon enough.

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