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If you have seen this with your student discount it was still worth your time
on September 27, 2008
The movie's concept is certainly an unsettling one and the opening of the movie is quite a push. An unseen force is causing people to suddenly become disorientated, lose the ability to speak and then commit suicide in creatively gruesome ways that richly deserve the first R rating Shyamalan has garnered. The fact that it first happens in New York City causes people to think initially that it is a terrorist attack. As the invisible "plague" spreads through other cities in the Northeast, that possibility becomes less likely.
But of course there's an intimate story, one that revolves around high school science teacher, Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) who has a nutty problem worrying that his wife, Alma (Zooey Deschanel), is having an affair when all she did was enjoy a tiramisu one day with a guy named Joey, who keeps calling her. (Joey's voice is played by the writer-director.) Elliot's friend Julian (John Leguizamo), with an eight-year-old daughter in tow, Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez), has the real problem, as his wife is not with him during the epidemic. He leaves his girl with the Moores to search for her. As the Moores and Jess bolt from Philadelphia by train, they become stuck in the small town of Filbert, as railroad communications have broken down, whereupon they seek help from one of the nuts, Mrs. Jones (Betty Buckley).
The film's problems are that given the blandness of the leading two Moores, the dialogue is bereft of wit. Nor can the formerly remarkable Zooey Deschanel save the pic, an actress who is still playing loopy roles as she did in Miguel Arteta's "The Good Girl" but who has lost her former cuteness with advancing years.
I have no final thoughts to send this commentary out on. The Happening is a movie I know I will watch again, one that might even grow on me to the point I go from lukewarm appreciation all the way to full-blown love like I have with Shyamalan's Unbreakable. In the end, I really can't come up with a reason as to why, even with its problems, this feature affected me like it has. Probably certain things just are a little bit beyond our rational understanding.