What Just Happened?
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A winningly sharp comedy about two nail-biting, back-stabbing, roller-coaster weeks in the world of a middle-aged Hollywood producer.
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
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Top customer reviews
Bobby, did you do this on purpose? Get your loyal fans expecting, at the very least, a *decent* movie with a knockout cast and then lob a flaming pile of dog crap through the screen at them? If so, this is god-tier trolling, bravo, srs.
Speaking of dogs, that was the funniest part of the movie and was the "hook" that kept us watching.
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. That is a great satire of the divas in Hollywood that have temper tantrums (Lohan, Hilton etc). Great parody. The scene when everybody waits for him and we see him sideways in the trailer is fantastic. Because it is all about the money!
And finally, there is the therapist. In the movie they appear exactly like they are in real life...totally worthless! Because it is all about the money!
Make sure you watch the extras; there is more to the movie in the extras. Even Kristen Stewart looks good in this movie because ...she is playing herself.
Don't listen to the naysayers. Five stars all the way because of the cast and because it is REAL folks. I guess people who don't like the movie don't like what they see in the mirror. The truth hurts.
Most recent customer reviews
Wasn't the usual Robert De Niro film .
Couldn't get I to movie, boring.