Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Happening . . .

Joy and I finally got out to see The Happening on Saturday evening. It was movie number four of my commitment to see ten movies this summer and - I have to say - I didn't hate it (this is where Michael Thomas, Ben Mufti and film officiandos everywhere grimace).

Let me be clear about this . . . I'm a huge M. Night Shymalan fan. Love him, frankly. I stand by all of his movies (including his stellar script for Stuart Little) and they have all had their desired effect on me (much like Alanis, I often wonder if maybe Shymalan is working solely for my comfort and benefit (smile)).

I don't want to overstate my feelings on the movie. It was NOT my favorite of his films (point of fact - it was my least favorite of his written/produced/directed credited films) but it resonated with me MAINLY because of my beautiful wife's ability to analyze the movie in a way that resonated far more than, as I watched someone delibirately run themselves over with a lawnmower, I thought the movie would.

LACK OF SPOILER ALERT - for the benefit of those of you that would still like to see the movie, I won't get in to the plot too much but I will offer my own (well, Joy's) theory on the movie and I might give some stuff away.

First, let me tell you that the R-rating was probably unneeded. The "gore" of the movie was somewhat shocking (the loud thuds of bodies hitting the ground after falling from a construction site and the pops of a gun over a bluff in a field were particularly jolting) but the movie could have been done, and done well, without the blood and stuff. The MOST terrifying part of the movie for me was the Betty Buckley scenes. I had actual cold shivers when she first grumped, then slapped the cookie-grabbing hand of Jess and then appeared at the bottom of the stairs. CRAZY scary. And all PG(13?).

The Happening - like so many things in life - is really about who we are and our relationships. With the planet, with the government, with terrorists, with the wind, with each other, with whomever. It is also, at the end of the day, about mysteries and hope, positive thinking and the willingness to observe the world around you and try to find a way to make it better. It is as simple as that.

Look at the facts in the movie (we'll break it down scientifically - Marky Mark would be proud).

1 - High Pitched Voices - Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschannel (sp?) both star in the movie and both speak at the high end of their registers (think Mark as Dirk Digler signing with John C. Reilly in Boogie Nights) and it is very annoying at first and then Joy reminded me that babies build a closer relationship with and trust their mothers first because their voices, in a higher register than most fathers, are more comforting and more convincing. Are the characters setting themselves up to comfort and lead - or just annoy me? Let the movie roll on.

2 - Everyone's Dead - As the movie goes on and "the happening" continues to spread through the North East - HOW glad am I that I live in Kansas now when people are punching out all over the North East United States in a film? - there are many theories on what causes the happening to happen to you (to review a film without giving away any of the plot is NOT the easiest thing I've ever tried to do) and it ranges from getting away from cities to getting in to small groups to getting off the roads and places people are known to be and then - once a very, very alone Betty Buckley (who was AMAZINGLY scary, creepy and impactful in the movie) succumbs to the happening while alone in her garden on her rural farm with no power and no source of news from the real world - you realize that it has NOTHING to do with anything other than the people themselves. You'll notice the complainers and the negative folks and the worry worts in each "attack" were the first to go. Take John Leguizamo (sp?) - Wahlberg's best friend in the movie. From JUMP he triest to tell himself (and others) that he's not scared because he has numbers on his side but he seems very resolved that his wife is going to die and that he is going to do trying to find his wife (watch the scene where he hands his daughter off and tell me if there is even a drop of belief that his family will be together again) and then watch the whole jeep full of people when they see the rip in the roof of the jeep. No one stays positive. They all get "happened". Coincidence?

3 - The Mood Ring - Purple may mean horny (see the movie) but according to a quick google search, blue (the color Mark Wahlberg makes the ring for most of the movie) means calm and relaxed and the yellow amber color (we saw at the end of the movie and when Jess wore the ring) means tense and excited. It was only in the final, final moments of the happening when the troubled couple was seperated and the end was surely near that our hero let the tension get to him. He stayed positive and thoughtful the entire rest of the movie/adventure.

4 - Even Those Closest To You - In two very telling scenes about the real nature of The Happening, Marky-Mark was able to see people die despite observing his seemingly correct theories about the happening. The two kids that got angry and indignant when they were barred entry to a safe house lost their lives, our heros and Jess did not and then Betty Buckley, grumpy and angry from her first appearance in the film, was lost to the happening despite being alone in her garden when she was overcome. It was the positivity of Walhberg and Deschannel that let them live through the experiences.

5 - If We're Going Down, We're Going Down Together - Like any mediocre movie, the final moments of The Happening force our heroes to make the choice that they've run and fought as much and hard as they can and, if the time has come to face their fate - so be it - but let them do it on their terms. The two heroes walk out, seemingly in to the happening maelstrom, and yet they go unscathed. They believed they had to be together to survive and they should perish together too, if needed. They WOULD be together though.

So, I guess my point to all of this is fairly simple . . . IF you are positive. IF you believe. IF you just pay attention and surround yourself with people you love and put out the energy to come up with a plan. IF you don't get negative or nervous or too scared. IF you do all of the above - you can survive just about anything. Just about any "happening."

Apply that to morbid obesity, gastric bypass surgery and the recovery process, the slings and arrows of poor decisions and bad relationships or the least impressive (but still heavy and deep and ambitious and beautiful) of M. Night Shymalan's movies.

Go see it. Take your wife/husband/significant other. Assure them that you would never be able to weather a terrible scenario without them. Buy them a dessert. Get a mood ring. Wear it daily.

OR just tell me if you agree or disagree with our theory once you've seen and thought about the movie.

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