Cinepub


Last Year In Film/Great Scenes From Shit Films Part 9: The Happening by Jamie

The Happening is a stupid, stupid movie. I don’t think anyone can deny that. In fact, it may just be the stupidest movie I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen Snakes on a Plane and Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. It plumbs the depths of dumb in ways that few films have ever done before and for that, M. Night Shyamalan deserves some credit. A few days before reviews for the film were posted online, M. Night said that The Happening was intended to be a B-Movie and I can’t help but call bullshit. If it was, why did he wait so long before revealing this fact? Why wasn’t it mentioned in any of the films advertising? Can you imagine if Grindhouse had been released under a different name without any attention being drawn to the fact that they were Grindhouse films? People would be annoyed and rightfully so… Though with the two films released under the Groundhouse title it is painfully clear what is going on even without any reference to it so maybe that’s a bad example. Sorry. Anyway, it’s pretty clear that Shyamalan intended for this film to be something more than a B-Movie and, when he got wind of the reaction to it, he decided to try and bluff everyone. Well, it didn’t work.

Once more, spoilers ahead. The Happening tells the stupid, stupid story of people all along the East Coast of the US mysteriously killing themselves for no apparent reason. It begins in New York in Central Park. People suddenly stop what ever they are doing, walk backwards and start killing themselves. What ever is causing this soon spreads throughout New York ending in a hilarious scene where builders begin leaping off of the building they are working on.

It’s in the next scene, in Philidelphia, that we meet Mark Wahlberg as Elliot Moore, the worst science teacher in the world. He believes in auras and mood rings and at one point, with regard to the disappearance of bees, he actually says:

“Science will come up with some reason to put in the books, but in the end it’ll be just a theory. I mean, we will fail to acknowledge that there are forces at work beyond our understanding. To be a scientist, you must have a respectful awe for the laws of nature.”

Wow, that is truly, truly awful. I can agree with the last sentence but everything before it is terrible. Just a theory? There is no way that a scientist would consider the meaning of the word ‘theory’ to be a guess. That’s the colloquial definition of theory. In science a theory must be based on observed facts and make testable predictions. It must have no equally acceptable or more acceptable alternative theory and it must have survived attempts at falsification. And what’s this crap about acknowledging that there are forces beyond our understanding? A scientists job is to explore those forces and try to understand them. In short, Elliot Moore should not be teaching anyone science. Still, despite all this, Mark Wahlberg is the best thing in this film. More on that later.

Anyway, the school principal, played by Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, closes the school early and Elliot and his best friend, Julian (John Leguizamo), decide to get the fuck outta dodge and get a train to Julian’s mother’s house in Harrisburg. They are accompanied by Julian’s recurring plot device… I mean daughter, Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez) and Elliot’s wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel, yes, she actually spells her name that way.) It’s hinted that Alma may have cheated on Elliot in some way and that she’s still lying to her husband about it. I hope that pays off well.

The train is stopped in the middle on nowhere because, as the train drivers say, “We lost contact… With everyone.” Wow, powerful stuff. Anyway everyone holds up in a tiny diner for a while, getting constant updates on the situation from the TV. This is also where the greatest scene in the entire film occurs. It is literally awesome. In fact, let’s make it a Great Scene From Shit Films entry as well. Ok, here it is:

(I’m sorry, I thought there was a better quality version of this scene on YouTube but I couldn’t find it.)

Fuck me. That dude got his arms all ripped off by lions. Thankyou movie, honestly, for letting me see that. At least you have a reason for existing. That’s more than most of the Razzie films I’ve watched for this segment. Let’s back to the story. Julian can’t get in touch with his wife on the phone and decides to go to Princeton to find her, leaving his daughter with Elliot and his missus. He get’s a ride in a jeep being driven by Dante from Clerks, though you never clearly see his face, his beard in the side view mirror is enough to give him away. Sadly, Julian never meets his wife because, after another hilarious scene which features a bunch of bodies hanging down the road in Princeton, air leaks into the Jeep and everyone becomes infected. Dante intentionally crashes the jeep, somehow managing to propel the person behind Julian over him and through the windshield. Julian survives only to get out of the jeep, pick up a piece of shattered glass and slice open his wrist.

Meanwhile Elliot and co. manage to hitch a ride with a hot dog obsessed botanist and his wife. The botanist doesn’t believe the official story behind what’s going on, that terrorists are behind the mysterious events. Instead he believes it’s plants, because all plants can communicate with each other and they’ve all evolved to want to take us all down a peg. This is, of course, blatantly stupid. Even if plant’s can communicate with members of their own species (and such communication is pretty much limited to releasing chemicals to warn others when they are being eaten so that the others can increase toxin production) they certainly can’t communicate with other species. It’s also impossible to assume that they all evolved this strange neurotoxin at once. Plant evolution works in exactly the same way as animal evolution. The smaller, quicker-breeding plants can mutate quicker whilst the large, slower-breeding plants mutate at a much slower rate, therefore there’s no way the trees and grass could all do this at the same time. Unless it was all part of some nefarious plot, the grass evolving this ability centuries ago and have since been waiting for trees to catch up. Now that they have, the time to strike has come! No… That’s too stupid, even for The Happening.

The group soon meets up with a few more survivors and they begin walking to a lightly populated town in hope of escaping the terrorist attack. They split into two groups, with Elliot, Alma and Jess’ group being in the front whilst the second, larger group follows behind. Suddenly, the first group hears gunshots and realises that the second group are killing themselves. Not only that but the botanist was right! It is the plants! Oh my god! This scene leads up to one of the moments that makes Mark Wahlberg the best thing about this film. He is hilarious.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Wow. Just wow. Throughout the film Wahlberg acts like this and it actually makes the film watchable. If not for him, The Happening would be a boring piece of shit with an incredibly stupid plot. I salute you Mark Wahlberg and your heroic mastery of the craft of non-acting or whatever it is that you’re doing.

This scene then leads into one of the stupidest things ever put to film. Did I mention this film was stupid? Well, what happens next is a scene wherein Wahlberg’s group runs away from the wind. Yes, there’s certainly nothing more exciting in all the world than seeing a bunch of people run away from the wind. And that’s pretty much the point where the film completely falls apart. Each scene is more ridiculous that the last. There’s sights you’d never thought you’d see like Mark Wahlberg pointing to a big house in plain view of everyone and shouting “Hey, there’s a big house.” Mark Wahlberg talking to a plastic potted plant, asking it’s permission to use the bathroom. We also found out what it was that Alma was feeling so guilty about. She confesses to Elliot that she and a co-worker went out for GASP! dessert and she never told him about it! Really? That’s it movie? That’s your big infidelity storyline? Fuck you movie. Fuck you. There’s an awesome scene of a man getting himself run over by a ride on lawn mower and there’s a crazy old lady who lives alone and doesn’t like it when people eye her lemon drink.

It’s while staying at this old lady’s house that Mark Wahlberg’s performance reaches it’s pinnacle, where Wahlberg truly reaches for the stars:

There’s something about this scene that makes it seem as though Elliot was planning to kill the old women, even though I’m pretty sure that never crossed the character’s mind. Maybe he suffers from a similar condition to me. I find it really hard to sound sincere when I say thankyou, even when I genuinely mean it. Maybe Elliot really has a problem trying to sound as though he’s not going to kill someone, even when he has no intention of doing so.

Anyway, the film culminates with The Happening not happening any more just as Elliot, Alma and Jess have to go outside. I mean literally just before. It’s so fucking stupid it makes me damn, damn mad. Anyway, Jess is adopted by Elliot and Alma, Alma get’s knocked up and a man on the TV posits that this was just a warning. We then cut to Paris where The Happening begins to happen again. This time, however, it only lasts a few hours as the French immediately surrender and France is soon ruled by trees. Sorry to any French readers but, well, who can resist?

So there you have it. The Happening was easily the most entertaining film I’ve seen out of the Razzie nominations, largely due to the hilarious performance of Mark Wahlberg. Seriously, without him this would have been an awful, awful film but because of him it’s just a stupidly fun bad film that gets two pints out of five.



Last Year In Film: The Hottie And The Nottie by Jamie

I can’t think of many films that have actually made feel physically ill. I can watch the most horrific scenes of gore-laden violence and not feel sick. There are times however that something pushes me over the edge and makes me feel a little bit woozy. One scene that sticks out in particular is the scene in The Fly when Jeff Goldblum is pulling out his finger nails. There, I just dry heaved whilst thinking and writing about it. Thankfully it’s just one scene. The problem is, you see, I have a major problem when it comes to nails and the disgusting things that can happen to them. Even talking about them can bring me close to puking. It’s weird, I know, but that’s just the way it is. Still, at least it was only one scene and the awesomeness of the rest of the film helped me to overcome it.

This particular film has a running joke early on involving the titular Nottie’s infected toe nail. I knew from the first time it was shown on screen that I was going to have a problem here. I could feel the bile rising in my throat and when the joke finally got to it’s conclusion, the toe nail flying off and getting stuck on someone’s lip, I had to pause the film and go stand by the toilet for a few moments, just in case. I didn’t throw up in the end but it’s still the furthest a film has ever pushed me towards it, so let’s just say I was in a pretty bad mood for the rest of it.

Ok, that’s that out of the way then. The rest of the film is pretty much the usual vapid, pointless gross out teen comedy with one exception. This usual, vapid, pointless gross out teen comedy stars Paris Hilton! And boy does she suck! I’ll give you a moment to insert your own Paris Hilton/Sex tape joke here. Ok, we done? Let’s move on. How does Paris Hilton keep getting work? Seriously?… Fine, insert your own Paris Hilton/Blowjob joke here. Let’s continue. Paris cannot act for shit. Every line she delivers is flat, with only the tiniest flicker of what might be emotion but probably isn’t. There’s also the problem that she’s playing a character who apparently cares about people who are less fortunate and less attractive than she is and I’m sorry but I just can’t but that for one second. And really? Is Paris Hilton that attractive? There’s something about the shape of her head which just seems odd to me. Also I’m a boob man and Paris is definitely lacking in that area.

Now to be fair, the rest of the cast were alright, nothing stellar but passable and there were a few moments when I couldn’t help chuckle a little, in particular when the main character comes to a costume party as Speed Racer complete with the Mach 5 around his waist. In general, however, this movie left me feeling kinda pissed off. After all, the main message seems to be “Hey, ugly girls, everything will be alright as long as you clean yourself up good, get your teeth fixed and get your mole removed. Then men will be able to look past your physical appearance and see the good person you really are underneath.” Still you can maybe give the movie a pass on this just because the Nottie is so ridiculously hideous and beleaguered with so many hideous physical problems that it becomes pretty goddamn ridiculous. You could maybe give it a pass but I choose not to. Fuck you movie. Fuck you. Damn, I wonder how many times I’ve used that phrase in these Razzie nomination reviews. Probably too many times. Still only two more of these Worst movie nominations and then we get to go back to the Oscar nominations. And really, how bad can The Happening and The Love Guru be?

So the rating. Well, it wasn’t as bad as Disaster Movie or Meet The Spartans but it was still pretty fucking awful. I guess I can give it one pint out of a possible five maybe just for the Speed Racer costume. Laterz.



Last Year In Film: In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale by Jamie

There are tales as old as time. Tales of bravery, of good versus evil, of kings and wizards. Then there are tales of people with plastic personalities, wearing plastic armour and fighting with plastic weapons against men in rubber suits who move as if there balls are always uncomfortably caught in their underwear. Uwe Boll’s In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale is the latter.

I suppose I should begin by saying I’ve never played Dungeon Siege so I have no idea how faithful this film is to the game so there’s that. What I can say, however, is that I have seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy and my guess is that Uwe Boll has certainly seen them as well. There are shots, costumes and even an actor directly lifted from the fantasy epic and as you watch it, there’s something you simply have to admit. Uwe has some massive balls. For it does indeed take massive balls to so relentlessly rip off a series of films that everyone has seen, received almost universal acclaim and then stand back and still consider yourself a director of any worth. Yet Uwe does and he’ll fight you if you say otherwise.

Anyway, the films about Farmer, a man so called because that’s what he is, who must rescue his wife and avenge his son after an attack on his village by the murderous Orc hordes… Sorry, I mean Krug hordes. The Krug army is controlled by evil wizard Ray Liotta who is playing Saruman wanna-be Gallian. He has a base in a volcano, like Mordor and beneath it is a big lava filled foundry, like Isengard. This is where Farmer and his companions, Norrick played by Ron Pearlman and Bastian played by someone else, must travel to if he ever hopes to see his wife again.

Meanwhile King Burt Reynolds decides to fight this new menace by sending out his armies and stuff. He’s betrayed by his nephew Duke Fallows, played by Matthew Lillard. Oh God, I’m getting bored just writing this synopsis. Anyway, Farmer finds out he is Burt Reynolds’ son and true heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Ehb or something. Then Fallow kills the King and the armies of man join up with the tarzan-esque Elves who go on to assault the land that would be Mordor. Farmer kills Ray Liotta and all is right with Middle-Earth… I mean Ehb. Oh, John Rhys-Davies plays Merick, the kings Magus. Yep, somehow he got roped into this shit. Maybe he just really like getting payed to LARP or something. Oh one more thing. There are ninjas in it too. Make of that what you will.

This film wouldn’t even be in the so bad it’s good if not for two people, Ron Perlman and Matthew Lillard. Ron Perlman always brings a smile to my face, no matter what piece of shit he’s in. Hell, he was the best thing about Alien Ressurection. As for Matthew Lillard, well, what can I say about Matthew Lillard. His over the top portrayal of Duke Fallow is so fantastically awful that you can’t help but enjoy it on some level, though I guarantee not the level intended. Everything he does is terrible. He minces through scene after scene overacting to a ridiculous degree, his accent not helping at all. In fact it’s the accent he puts on which reminded me of another performance that made another bad film so bad that it was good, the heroically stupid role of John Travolta in Battlefield Earth, my own personal yardstick by which all other terribly hilarious performances are measured.

Unfortunately, Lillard isn’t in the film nearly enough during it’s two hour running time to make this really worth watching but I will say this for Uwe Boll. Terrible as this film is, he did actually manage to make a film. It has a plot, actors and direction. All of them terribly, terribly poor but it’s still more than you can say for Meet The Spartans and Disaster Movie. Well done Uwe, you get a whole pint out of a possible five.



Last Year In Film: Disaster Movie by Jamie

Oh fucking Jesus fucking Christ. What the fuck is wrong with the world? Why are things like this allowed to exist? Yes, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer unleashed two pieces of cinematic garbage upon the world in 2008 and whilst Meet The Spartans was a bad film it’s actually kinda watchable when compared with this entry in the _____ Movie franchise, Disaster Movie.

This film has absolutely no redeeming qualities. The jokes are shit, the performances laughable (though not in the way intended) and my world is a far, far more painful place having sat through it. And I have to live with that. I have to spend every waking hour of the rest of my life knowing that I spent an hour and a half watching this. No wait. It’s more than that because it took me three tries before I actually managed to sit through the entire thing. Each time I got about fifteen minutes through before I had to stop. So in essence I’ve spent two hours and fifteen minutes watching this piece of shit. I am a broken man.

And now I’m reliving it all again just so I can write this. Fine. Let’s get this the fuck over with. Remember all those trailers that came out in 2007/2008 for films like Hancock, The Dark Knight, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man and Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull? Friedberg and Seltzer clearly did because they inserted parodies of all of those films in this fucking film. They actually parodied films that they hadn’t seen yet. It’s ridiculous. As a result all the parodies of these films are just the character showing up and doing nothing or, in Hancock’s case, parodying one specific piece from the trailer itself. Well done movie. Well done. I applaud your creativity. Sorry, did I say creativity? I meant go fuck yourself movie. Go fuck yourself right to hell.

The rest of the parodies are pretty much the same fare that we saw in Meet The Spartans except somehow they’ve managed to take this time-tested method of spoofing pop culture and make it shitter. This film has even less respect for it’s audience. Where Meet The Spartans held your hand so that you could get each and every joke, this film grabs you by the fucking neck and rubs your face in the joke, whilst shouting at you “LOOK! LOOK WHAT WE’RE MAKING FUN OF! ISN’T IT FUNNY?!?! HAHAHA!” The whole thing is really rather tedious. “LOOK! LOOK! IT’S HANNAH MONTANA! SHE’S SHILLING THINGS EVEN AS SHE DIES UNDER A METEOR! ARE WE NOT EXCELLENT SATIRISTS?” I think you get the picture.

This film, for technically that’s what it is, almost makes me want to somehow stop all things from happening. Because as long as events occur, there will be things for these movies creators to ‘parody.’ Billions of years of evolution and thousands of years of civilisation led to the creation of these movies and for that reason alone I’m starting to think that this whole ‘Human Race’ thing was really a bad idea from the get go and we’d be doing the universe as a whole a favour by simply going extinct right now. And even if we don’t, something else may do it for us. After all, there’s the chance that these films are being beamed into space right now and that, some time in the future they will be intercepted by an otherwise peaceful alien civilisation who, as a result of watching them, come to the conclusion that existence would be a far better thing without these meddlesome hairless apes running around making shitty parody films. Well done Friedberg and Seltzer. You’ve doomed our species.

And what’s the worse thing about this damn movie? (If indeed anything can be considered worse than the impending annihilation of your species by pissed off extra-terrestrials?) The fact that they took something genuinely funny, in this case Sarah Silverman’s song ‘I’m Fucking Matt Damon’ and totally ruin it. Why movie? Why must you ruin good things with your dogged determination to suck so bad? I believe I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. Fuck you movie.

So that’s that then. Disaster movie is done and dusted and I’ll never have to watch it again but there will always be a part of me that is gone thanks to this movie, destroyed by it’s utter awfulness. I’m fairly sure that if you look into my eyes you’ll notice something is off, like a part of me has died in some way. So what kind of a rating can I give this film? I don’t think it really fits into our pint of beer scheme so there is only one way I can rate this. With the grand score of Unicum. If you’ve never experienced Unicum, one of Hungary’s national drinks, then you are exceedingly lucky. It is foul and so is this movie.




%d bloggers like this: