Run-time: 1 hours, 31 minutes
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo & Betty Buckley
Before you start jumping the gun, there's a perfectly legitimate reason for me to own The Happening. I first saw the movie on its opening weekend with a friend of mine, and in the beginning, we were actually intrigued and enthralled by the originality of the storyline. An unknown airborne toxin causes people to lose control of their wits, leading to their eventual suicide. Sounds creepy enough, right? However, one particular scene changed the film from a thriller to a comedy. If you read my post about finding the beauty in bad movies, you'll have seen that clip. At that moment, I literally laughed out loud in the theater, and within the next few minutes, the rest of the audience had joined my chorus of laughter.
This film's screenplay is arguably one of the worst I've ever experienced. It starts out strong enough, but it ultimately starts to spiral out of control. In the beginning, we get an effective thriller that does well to pique our interest, but it slowly turns into a movie that sees our characters running away from the wind. When you're simply bouncing from suicide to suicide, there's really not much for the audience to latch onto, except perhaps the acting performances.
(Un)fortunately, we're given some career-worst performances from both Wahlberg and Deschanel. I could probably go on for hours about the other major supporting roles, but most of the blame for this flick lands on our two leads. To be fair, a lot of the problem lies with how the characters were written, but you'd think that such consistent actors as Mark and Zooey would find a way to make the childishness of their characters seem a little more believable. As it stands now, they're just childish, all the way down to wearing mood rings to show their love for another.
Overall, The Happening truly is a massive joke that Shyamalan probably thinks holds a massive political statement. Unfortunately for him, it quickly turns into a laugh-fest that simply cannot be taken seriously. There's a reason I placed it on my list of favorite "so bad, it's good" films and why it now ranks as the worst film I've ever seen. Sometimes unintentional comedies are the most satisfying.