Something Old, Something New: I Heart Huckabees, The Happening

Something Old: I Heart Huckabees (2004)

Something New: The Happening (2008)

The Connection: Mark Wahlberg, a.k.a. Marky Mark, Funky Bunch ringleader and damn fine panty model

Mark Wahlberg is the sh*t. Born in the ghetto of Boston to a family of eleven, Wahlberg dropped out of school, did a bunch of drugs, got thrown in jail, was crazy ripped upon release, became a heartthrob rapper, modeled for Calvin Klein, started doing some acting, and now produces not one but two excellent award-winning television shows. Seriously, how rags-to-riches American dream can you be? Plus, he’s crazy hot.

I repeat, Mark Wahlberg is the sh*t. His new movie, The Happening, however, is not.

This is not Wahlberg’s fault. The Happening’s crappiness can be attributed 100% to the film’s writer and director, M. Night Shyamalan. Inspired by such cinema classics as The Birds and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Happening is the story of a mysterious disease (of sorts) spreading across the East Coast, causing the infected to become disoriented and commit suicide. People begin fleeing the urban areas where the outbreaks first occur and head to the country, only to find that they’re not safe anywhere. (Dun dun DUNNN!)

There are a lot of reasons I don’t like The Happening. For one, M. Night Shyamalan made it. Sure, The Sixth Sense was stellar, but the following four movies are all sh*t for the same reasons The Happening is s*it: the personal relationships between the main characters are schmaltzy; the plot device, while vaguely interesting in and of itself, is overwrought and poorly executed; and the climax is, well, oddly anticlimactic.

And the writing. Good god. It’s so forced and awkward that one almost has to wonder if Shyamalan did it intentionally as some kind of homage to old-school B-movies made in the same vein as The Happening. And if that’s the case, then why in the hell is the movie so serious? For realz, The Happening has such potential to be a fun and thought-provoking apocalypse film, it’s just made exactly wrong in every way. Even our man Wahlberg, who is lovely and charming and great in everything, comes off as uncomfortable and cheeseball as the film’s protagonist. Muddled, boring, and overdone; I think I can honestly say that The Happening has no redeeming qualities.

At the other end of the spectrum is I Heart Huckabees. Released a few years ago (I know, not that old, so sue me), Huckabees is an original and provocative study in existentialism best described in the words of the film’s writer and director David O. Russell:

“Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin are existential detectives who you could hire to investigate the meaning of your life. They are formal, they wear suits, they are Paris-trained and their clients include Jude Law, Naomi Watts, Jason Schwartzman, and Mark Wahlberg. Their nemesis is Isabelle Huppert. Hilarity ensues.”

Basically, this movie is flawless. The storyline, though decidedly madcap, is cohesive and engaging, the dialogue is hilarious, the visuals are stunning and well-executed, and the soundtrack is perfect. And while the entire cast is excellent, Wahlberg is at his neurotic babeasaurus best as Tommy, the disillusioned fireman who rides his bike to fires because of his dislike of petroleum-usage. I have never met anyone who didn’t enjoy this movie, and if I ever do they’ll be expelled from my life immediately.

BOTTOM LINE:

The Happening – Bad. Not good. I doubt that even the most hardcore of Shyamalan fans will dig this film.

I Heart Huckabees – Could I possibly gush any more about this movie? Rent it. NOW.

Alternative Summer Book List
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