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What Just Happened?

2.5 out of 5 stars 175 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A winningly sharp comedy about two nail-biting, back-stabbing, roller-coaster weeks in the world of a middle-aged Hollywood producer.

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Somebody once dubbed Hollywood "the Dream Factory"; What Just Happened aims to make sad, occasionally zany comedy of the proposition that unreality is the keynote of Hollywood as place, process, and lifestyle. Art Linson wrote it, and as producer of The Untouchables, Fight Club, Heat, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, et numerous al., he must know the territory. Trouble is, after Robert Altman's way-superior The Player (1992), several seasons of Entourage, and wraparound entertainment coverage on cable TV and the Internet, most of What Just Happened feels secondhand and superfluous. Robert De Niro gives a low-key comic performance as Ben, a seasoned producer being relegated to the edge of Tinseltown's Big Picture. The test screening of his latest movie was a disaster because his arty Cockney director (Michael Wincott, savoring a rare comic opportunity) insists on killing off not only hero Sean Penn but also, unforgivably, his dog. And Ben's next movie may not get made at all because Bruce Willis is adamant about playing his part with an outlandish beard the studio won't stand for. Meanwhile, our beleaguered protagonist is living in a soulless plastic-and-chrome apartment while supporting two ex-wives in their respective Houses Beautiful. The second wife (Robin Wright Penn) has lined up a divorce counselor to help them get on with their separate lives, even as Ben yearns for reconciliation.

What Just Happened re-teams De Niro with director Barry Levinson eleven years after Wag the Dog (1997), their surreal black comedy about Hollywood and Washington, different kinds of dream factory, collaborating on a politically expedient fiction and an unnecessary war. Nothing comparable is at stake here--though at one point studio boss Catherine Keener does evoke memories of President Lyndon Johnson issuing directives while perched on the commode. There are funny bits and deft touches from such redoubtable troupers as John Turturro--playing an agent terrified of talking to his clients--and Stanley Tucci, as a screenwriter who may be moving in on that wife Ben hopes to win back. However, Levinson's direction is so lackadaisical, there's barely a moment that doesn't nudge the whole enterprise toward the direct-to-video bin. --Richard T. Jameson


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Robert De Niro, Stanley Tucci
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Magnolia
  • DVD Release Date: February 24, 2009
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001FB55XA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,517 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "What Just Happened?" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Director Barry Levinson hasn't had much luck lately - after Bandits, which was a good though not anything very noteworthy comedy caper, he had two colossal duds in a row- Envy and Man of the Year- which, despite an otherwise impressive host of films (i.e. Diner, Rainman, Sleepers, even Toys) could have threatened to throw him off track ala Rob Reiner. But in a way What Just Happened was relatable for Levinson, despite it being the stories of Art Linson, semi-famous producer who's had hits and misses throughout his career, and at the same time gave him some ample material for some sardonic, spot-on satire of the industry. It's not the Player, don't get me wrong, but it gives its winks and nods to the egomania, the preciousness of directors and stars, and how personal lives get caught up in the mix without getting too smug with us common moviegoers.

Probably the funniest, as sort of a near running gag, is the latest film that producer Ben (De Niro) is being test-screened for audiences; a rough cut of "Fiercly" starring Sean Penn (who, as with Bruce Willis, plays "Himself" in the film) disturbs the audience because, on top of a bleak end for its hero, a dog is killed on screen (this, for all the wrong reasons, is hysterical funny, if only for the deadpan reaction from DeNiro to the insanely negative response cards). The director, however, a British hipster (brilliantly played by Michael Wincott), doesn't take it lightly that he doesn't have final cut. This brings around what seems like a moment of levity midway... and then back to the start when it comes time for Cannes. On top of this is Willis's 'plot-line' involving a beard he won't shave off. It's almost like a slight reprisal of his part in Four Rooms, only put to a much bigger, aggrandizing maximum.
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Format: Amazon Video
I was surprised at some of the negative reviews here about a film I've seen at least 20 times. Based upon Art Linson's autobiographical book of the same name, the movie does a great job of binding disparate chapters into a cohesive story that - while it's in no way fun or pleasant - paints a painfully accurate picture of an industry that's full of money and egos. While there are many industry films out there, What Just Happened reveals the money-focused obsession of studios, the narcissism of actors and the pathological dedication of semi-sane directors. And by the way, Michael Wincott's character here and his film 'Fiercely' is really supposed to be David Fincher's Fight Club.

While admittedly it's more accessible to movie bores like me, I think there's enough wit and cleverness in the script to keep the casual viewer engaged. Robert De Niro is excellent as the producer under fire and there's a fine supporting cast of the likes of Stanley Tucci and Sean Pean who play their respective roles perfectly. A tip of the hat goes to Bruce Willis for an excellent self parody as the actor who threatens an entire production because he won't shave his beard. And Catherine Keener is fantastic as the unflinching studio head who will take final cut from a director if the dollar signs add up.

As someone who has flirted with the entertainment industry on various occasions, the bizarre situations posed in the movie strike a chord and remind you that Hollywood is about 10% product and 90% money, power and egos. What Just Happened is clever, insightful and well scripted and certainly worthy of higher praise than it's been receiving.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
I wish I had trusted the other reviews. I want those two hours of my life back. This movie was a complete waste of time. There were a handful of good moments in a horrible slice-of-life-of-a-business way, but all in all the entertainment factor of this movie was so low that I could probably have spent a more entertaining 2h by sitting outside on the sidewalk and watching the wind move the grass.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This is a great movie showing the inside of the corrupt and really crazy world of Hollywood. Only De Niro could have made this movie. Nobody can touch him.

The movie follows a producer (Ben) during two weeks before the Cannes festival (we definitely need to pay attention what the Europeans say, because they are more ...distinguished and they definitely have more class than the poor slobs of Americans). He is really on the run and his families (yes he has more than one) are falling apart. He is trying to change the end of a movie that at first doesn't appear to connect with the audience selected to prescreen the movie (reminds me the worthless focus groups that the candidates are using during the elections). All these people participating in the focus groups that supposedly represent the average Joe are selected according to the same (Hollywood) criteria. Therefore they NEVER represent the average Joe. Because it is all about the money!

After seeing this movie I understand why movies like "October Baby", "Touchback", and the soon to come out "Last Ounce of Courage" among others, can only be purchased from WalMart and they are nowhere to be found on Amazon or on Best Buy. When you have a drug addict, degenerate director that insists that blowing the head of a dog is art, then you understand why these people have really short life span and they have to be medicated. Usually, what most directors of Hollywood regard as art and deep philosophy in their movie is usually pure garbage with the exception of few (i.e. Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Francis Ford-Coppola, and Martin Scorsese among others). Because it is all about the money!

Then there is Bruce Willis and his beard as a side story.
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