Daniel’s Critical Corner: “The Happening”

Poop Happens !

 ~ Hello Everyone ~
Welcome To Daniel’s Critical Corner !
Today’s Event:  The Happening

Warning:  This review will have more spoilers than a crate FULL of rotten
cabbage, so proceed at your own risk !!!

OK.  The obligatory “spoiler alert” is out of the way.  Lettuce begin…

Our story opens one beautiful morning in Central Park.  All is calm, and two
young women are sitting on a bench reading.  A scream pierces the air, and one
of them is startled.  The other, seems to be dazed.  People on the nearby path  
just sort of “freeze” and stop what they are doing.  Dogs are running loose with 
leashes dragging behind them.  Phones and iPods are dropped, and bicycles lay
on the ground.  A cool summer breeze glides across everyone, as they casually 
start to reach for any and all sharp objects in the vicinity.  One of the women
on the bench removes a large pin from her hair and impales herself with it…

Everybody on the East Coast mysteriously starts following suit…  Something is
causing folks to commit mass suicide.  But what ?  Did Clay Aiken release a new
album ?  At first, it seems to be yet another terrorist attack…  Then we find out 
that BUSH is responsible.   (As well as SHRUB and TREE).

It is vindictive and vile vegetation vetting Vengeance ! Predatory perennials
preying on People !  Beguiling begonias bringing bundles of Bedlam !

Yes folks, “The Happening” is director M. Night Shyamalan’s version of “Little
Shop of Horrors”,  (minus the musical numbers of course).   Alfred Hitchcock 
had people leery of peckers after watching “The Birds”, and M. Night Shyamalan 
wants to terrify us with his “plants”.  Go figure. 

 A killer plant movie.  That’s what’s “Happening”.  Nothing more than a  tale
of botany gone bad.  ScaryNoInterestingmaybeLeafy and delicious… 
Always.  Vegetarians, beware, these plants are looking to settle the score. 
You should have had that hamburger !  Now, ferocious foliage shall feast
upon your FACE !

Alright, I’m exaggerating a little bit.  The plants don’t eat people…  This movie
would have been SO COOL if they did.  They do however, let out deadly plant
farts.  This chemical is so rank that one is driven to suicide.  And speaking of 
suicide, what is M. Night doing to himself with this wilted wannabe of a fright
flick anyway ? Is he calling Uwe Boll for advice ?  We’ve gone from “Sixth
Sense” to “No Sense Whatsoever”. 

Where is the genius that brought us liquid-hating aliens  in “Signs” ?  What
happened to the guy that brought us Samuel Jackson’s bad hair in the now
classic “Unbreakable” ?  (In retrospect, they should have called it


Pardon Me…  Is This The New Issue Of “Critical Corner” ?


 After leaving a bad taste in our mouths with his “Lady in the Water”,  you’d think
M. Night would have tossed us a breath mint.  Nope.  “Lady in the Water” did a
total belly flop at the box office, and he comes back with “The Crappening”.

 In all fairness, “Lady” had a great premise.  Some dude finds a nympho in his
 pool and has to save her from a demon dog.  How could you screw that up ?  Well,
 he decided to make it into some sort of morality play, and that’s all she wrote. 
Now, he takes killer plants and stuffs yet ANOTHER message down our throats. 
How mundane.  Respect the planet or it will be your undoing.  Yawn…  Talk
about missing your MARK (no, not as in Wahlberg) !  LOL !

Mark Wahlberg is indeed on board, trying to give us a salad performance as an
“Ivy” League college teacher who knows a thing or two about flora.  When the 
flowers and ferns start causing people to “off” themselves, our prudent professor
figures out a way to escape.  He, his wife, and a little girl left in their care make
a run for it, convinced they can escape the blooms of doom.

 Turns out, ALL of the plants, flowers and trees in the world can communicate
with each other ! (Most of them use Verizon Wireless).  Humans are a threat, and 
must be exterminated !  So, as a natural defense, toxins are released that turn
people into self destructing maniacs…  (Their first attempt was the perfume 
“Curious” by Britney Spears, and we all know what went on there).

Mark W. and his small band of survivors hide out in the country, because it
seems the deadly gas doesn’t strike areas of low populace.  However, you can’t
fool mother nature for long, and they soon discover what a pain in the “aspen”
she really can be. 


Insane In The Membrane…



Insane In The Brain !


They take refuge at a little old lady’s house (Betty Buckley from “Eight is
Enough”), but she is soon brainwashed by some tomato vines and a really
pissed off petunia.  The final showdown is not supposed to be funny, but I
was cracking up the entire time.

Now, I appreciate the message Shamalamadingdong is trying to send out here.
EAT MEAT.  But everyone is expecting more…  He really doesn’t even give us
a “plot twist” this time around.  Almost immediately, we realize what is behind
the mystery.  And after a while, seeing someone scream at a giant redwood 
(that’s just blowing in the wind) gets old.  

There is some build up, as the first thirty minutes of this film is rather intense. 
People kill themselves in gruesome, rather imaginative ways.  But it climaxes into
Mark Wahlberg yelling at nothing but air in a “take me now” kind of moment. 
Total let down.  Imagine if M. Night had directed “Psycho”.  Instead of the killer
turning out to be Norman Bates in a wig, we discover Phyllis Diller is holding
the knife….

Maybe it’s time for our misguided director to get out of “The Twilight Zone”.
(Or at least stay out of the greenhouse).  He has talent, but he is barking 
up the wrong tree.  He needs to branch out.  Maybe get to the root of the
problem. Then he can see where his failures stem from. 

He should try doing a drama, or perhaps a comedy.  (His last two movies, 
granted, are pretty darn funny).  He just can’t scare us anymore…  But all
hope isn’t lost.  Give the guy a change of venue, and he will be fine ! 

If you want true entertainment featuring vegetation with a taste for human
blood, may I suggest “The Maneater of Hydra” (1967) or “Attack of the Killer
Tomatoes” (1978).  Of course the original black and white version of “Little
Shop of Horrors” is sure to thrill, (with a young Jack Nicholson making his
film debut) !  Hey, he had to start somewhere.  It’s not easy being green

At any rate, “The Happening” is sure to leaf you totally disappointed.


Would I Recommend This ?  No

Daniel’s Critical Rating:  “6” out of “10”