Saturday, June 14, 2008

Shyamalan's Latest

Is The Happening Really That Bad?

The easy thing to do after seeing M. Night Shyamalan's new film, The Happening, is to agree with the majority of paid reviewers and call the film a disaster. (And I'm not against doing the easy thing [see my last dozen or so posts that are little more than links].)

But after seeing Shyamalan's film last night, and agreeing with my friend after we saw it that it was an awful movie, I re-evaluated my opinion. The Happening is a rather smart movie for what it could be. And what it could be is a post-modern movie joke.

Mark Wahlberg's performance is, at first glance, terribly poor. He delivers dialogue in an unbelievable I'm-reading-off-cue-cards way. But Wahlberg is consistent in his badness - he never deviates. This consistency suggests Wahlberg was aware of the awfulness of his performance and played it up.

Many of Shyamalan's critics have suggested his career is over, and this supposed fact has come from the director's own actions. So I did have pleasure in watching his new film where many of its characters commit suicide. If you have committed career suicide, why not write, produce and direct a movie about mass suicides? Why not make the film impossible to take seriously? Why not, in its glorious ridiculousness, force the audience to laugh at what they are seeing?

Doing those things, if that was Shyamalan's intention from the start, is a joke I can appreciate it; perhaps laugh at a second time. If not, then Shyamalan has given his audience another movie that will make it question why it continues to give him another chance.


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