Wednesday, June 18, 2008

absolute #1 worst line of The Happening, even allowing for the fact that some of the dialogue is spoken by children, which this line is not

[spoilers below]

"Whatever it is,* it's not happening** ninety miles from here".***

*It's plants. Plants, because they're not our friends, are emitting a neurotoxin that causes people to babble mindlessly, freeze, then commit mass suicide. The plant angle is obvious within the first thirty minutes, but the movie treats it like a tasty but fattening tub of ice cream, to be doled one stingy spoonful at a time, until your face is covered in Haagen Dasz and your stomach aches, and then you're supposed to go, "Hey! This is ice cream! Thanks for the sweet suspense, M. Night!"

Of course, it's not just enough to have people die. The victims have to off themselves in the most grotesque and cinematic style possible. Plants don't just want to stage our extinction. They have production values. Are plants auditioning for Hollywood? They can't do any worse at filmmaking than us humans.

On the other hand, this could be nature's revenge on us for flash mobs.

**For reasons that likely have to do with M. Night Shyamalan's attempt to inject meaning into a B-movie, the vaporously vague term "happening" is used again and again with all the intensity of a dripping tap: "What's happening?" "There appears to be an event happening" "Can this really be happening?" "The event must have stopped happening already". This pretty much kills whatever tension that Shyamalan is trying to generate with his comically stunned and inadequate characters. Imagine Titanic if people just stood around on deck and said "There appears to be a submersion taking place somewhere" or "By the time the submersion reaches this area, drowning will have occurred to persons who are us, or other persons currently occupying this area, either at present or in the near future".

The first 'happening' occurs in New York City, then in increasingly smaller centres around the Northeast United States. As the puny humans flee, they find that no place is safe. A group of stranded travelers crowd into a diner and watch a television reveal plot points the scope and range of the attacks with a helpful graphic. Someone says something like "We're right in the middle of it". Then, after a pregnant pause, an anonymous guy peels off the #1 absolute worst line of the whole movie.

***I'm not sure if that's the line verbatim. I found a copy of the script online and checked it out, but it was an early (and much, much better) draft, and the diner scene has changed. So I can't be certain that what I'm giving you here is completely accurate. But there is no fucking way I am sitting through that crippled zombie of a film again.


lotus07 said...

This film is taking on a life of its own. It is being rated as so bad, that I want to go see it, just to see for myself if it really can be that bad.

Schmutzie said...

And to think that I just about went to this movie with you. I think it would've driven me crazy.

Dana said...

Dammit! This is what I get for reading paragraphs out of sequence. I read your "spoilers" before I read the dealy about spoilers appearing below. I know technically "spoilers below" doesn't constitute a paragraph, but whatevz. You know what I mean.

So it's plants, eh? I never would have guessed.

palinode said...

lotus - There are worse films out there (I think). But it may be worth seeing in the theatre, if only because much of what power it possesses comes from an obsessive use of closeups. That film is all face, I tell you.

schmutzie - You would have looooved it.

dana - You would have guessed. Trust me.

Sarah Louise said...

I clearly need to remember to read your blog more often.

I love the Titanic reference. That was my favorite part.

Happy 4th, n'at.

palinode said...

sarah louise - Thank you for the nice comment. Unfortunately I'm not able to celebrate July 4th because I'm not American. If you try to celebrate Independence Day here the authorities show up and chastise you in front of everyone. Stupid Canada.