The Happening

By Mark Ramsey | 2008/06/16

Cameo appearances by M. Night Shyamalan in his own movies are disappearing – and so are the honeybees!

“If they’re going to make a new version of The Incredible Hulk every two years, we’re so out of here,” said a spokes-bee, who believes the ink on the DVD case should be dry before a reboot enters the theaters.

The Happening begins with an episode that stretches credulity to the breaking point:

Mark Wahlberg is a high school teacher!

Now Harry Potter as a real wizard, that I buy. But Mark Wahlberg in front of a class and not because some kid brought him in for “Show and Tell”? Come on!

“There are forces at work beyond our understanding,” he teaches. “Especially beyond my understanding, if you include virtually every force at work.”


But wait! There’s an “event” happening!

And whatever that “event” is, it’s surrounded by a cast of extremely mediocre Philadelphia-area supporting players who have spent a larger proportion of their careers sampling cheesesteaks than honing their craft.

Something’s in the air, and it’s making people kill themselves.

Besides the Denise Richards reality TV show, I mean.

Wouldn’t it be just our luck if the entire Lohan family is immune?

Pedestrians freeze like drivers on their cellphones when the light turns green while they ponder incredibly elaborate and imaginative ways to kill themselves. I don’t know about you, but if I had to figure out a cinematic and novel way to off myself it might stop me in my tracks, too.

“Why do people kill themselves in such devilishly elaborate ways?” asks formerly charming Zooey Deschanel, as she stuffs Tastycakes into every orifice on a suicidal rampage.

“If your last movie was The Lady In the Water, you’d finish yourself off with seared squab, foie gras, braised leeks, and lobster sauce, too” said John Leguizamo.

Speaking of The Lady in the Water, The Happening is certainly better than M. Night Shyamalan’s last outing.

But so is a screensaver.

It’s not giving anything away to say the plants are exacting their revenge on humanity. Although this doesn’t really make sense since the more we deforest, the fewer the plants. So isn’t the solution to kill more plants?


Listen, if you fear terrorists, you don’t plant them in your garden holding little lanterns next to your pink flamingos.

The wind blows this airborne death-wish to and fro. Yes, the wind is the villain…

…and I don’t mean breaking wind. Although that’s a very special kind of evil, too, and the plants wash their hands of it.

Frankly, I think this movie would have been better if the plants were actually giant Venus Fly Traps which swallow Mark Wahlberg whole.

“Stop, don’t eat Mark Walberg!” Zooey would cry.

“Yes,” shouts John Leguizamo, “who will executive produce the next season of Entourage on HBO?!”

One alarmed woman is speaking to her daughter on her cellphone as the daughter starts losing it. So the mom puts it on speaker!

She puts it on speaker so the crowd can hear her daughter kill herself!!

Who’s really the crazy one in that family?!

The kids in this movie are particularly Ed-Wood-Bad. John Leguizamo’s daughter cries like she has never cried before and never seen anyone cry before. “Every sense-memory I possess comes from the Powerpuff Girls,” she explained.

Over there’s the great Betty Buckley, proving not only that Eight is Enough, but that it’s enough to send you over the edge.

“Don’t touch things that aren’t yours,” Betty advises Mark in a most crazy way.

“Does that apply to the wallets of the audience?” Mark replies.

The Happening definitely has its moments. But they don’t add up to enough.

In the meantime, don’t give my houseplants any ideas.

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