M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening

Here is yet another glowing movie review by me.  Noticing this trend, I’d like to begin by pointing out that we have Netflix, and we watch probably about 6 movies each month; so it’s not that I just love every movie that comes out, it’s that I only post about the great ones.

Now, about The Happening: as predicted, I loved this movie.  Evidently I’m in the minority, though, as it’s gotten a mostly rotten rating on the tomatometer.

I think in order to appreciate The Happening, you have to be able to realize, admit, and/or accept that you’ve been desensitized over the years by scores of movies with gratuitous drama, slapstick comedy, explosions, and special effects.  Those things have their place, but when you’ve been pummeled by film after film of non-stop in-your-face madness, it can be hard to appreciate movies that are more subtle.

In fact, that applies to the other great M. Night movies too: Unbreakable and The Village.  They’re 2 of my favorite movies of all time; I like them better than The Sixth Sense despite the critical acclaim that that movie received.  I didn’t like Signs or Lady in the Water as much, though, so it’s not that I think M. Night is King Midas.

So what’s so great about The Happening?  Mark Wahlberg, for one thing.  But in general, the movie is quiet and subtle, which I think allows it to be intricate and interesting.  It’s also hilarious: there are a few scenes that are laugh-out-loud funny, and the fact that they’re in the midst of a film that’s totally not a comedy only makes them more comical.

Some reviews of the movie say that it portrays small-town Pennsylvanians in an offensive way, but I’m from small-town PA and I love PA and I didn’t get that vibe.  Others say that its message is pretentiously environmentalist; again, that’s a vibe I didn’t get, and though I recognize that aspect of the plot, it’s nothing at all like, say, The Day After Tomorrow.

It would perhaps be fair to describe The Happening as anticlimactic, but I don’t think that detracts from the movie as much as it would in other, more typical action-packed kinds of movies.  And I’m seeing comments that this was a stay-till-after-the-credits movie, which we did not; I suppose it’d be prudent to make that standard policy given the huge post-credit event that apparently happens in Iron Man.  But we virtually never see movies in theaters anymore, which brings me to...

Movie theaters suck.  Each of our tickets cost ten dollars.  The cheapest item at the concession stand was a bottle of water for $3.75.  Of course I brought my own bottle of water, but I had to sneak it in like a tiny criminal.  The smallest popcorn you could get was $4.50.  For that price you can buy an entire box of popcorn -- six whole bags -- and it’ll taste better too.  Then we had to listen to a couple of meatheads yakking through all the previews and the first ten minutes of the movie, until we finally moved across the theater to get away from them.

It’s certainly nice to see a film on the big screen with surround sound, and going out to the movies is a nice experience in a way, but the exorbitant prices and obnoxious people just make me mad.  I guess that’s why Netflix gets $18/month from us, while movie theaters get about one visit every 6 months.

Posted by Anthony on 2 replies


01. Jun 22, 2008 at 09:53am by Kimberly:

This probably makes me a big pansy, but I really struggled with the graphic images in this movie. I agree that it was laugh out loud funny at times, and very well done overall, but I had to turn away on several occasions. This is the same reason that I didn’t enjoy The Sixth Sense, but thought The Village, Unbreakable, and Signs were really great.

02. Jun 22, 2008 at 02:06pm by Anthony:

Yeah, you’re right.

About being a pansy.

No, but seriously, I think that by most people’s standards, this movie would not be considered very graphic.  There were a handful of graphic scenes, mostly shot as very quick cut scenes, and comprising probably 5-10% of the film overall.  And for the most part they weren’t especially gory; it’s mainly the sudden shock factor that makes them "scary".

So yes, the movie is somewhat graphic, but it’s a far cry from the bloodbath that many movies are nowadays.

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