What Just Happened?

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -4

Robert DeNiro, Bruce Willis, Sean Penn, Robin Wright, Stanley Tucci, John Turturro, Catherine Keener, Kristen Stewart. Comedy/satire. Written by Art Linson. Directed by Barry Levinson.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A renowned film producer needs a hit. What hes got is Bruce Willis with a beard and the studio doesnt want that beard. Hes also got a badly behaved director who wont change the ending of another film despite the studios insistence. Hes also got two ex-wives, two mortgages and a teenage daughter hes discovered was sleeping with an amoral agent whos just killed himself. Its not a good week. But life in Hollywood just keeps going on, fueled by ego and big bucks.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Having worked in the film and TV industries, I enjoy seeing movies that poke holes in the plastic reality that fosters the medias existence. While most people in those businesses are just trying to make a good product and do their jobs as best they can, it is an art form fueled by ego, agendas and greed. Two of the best pictures to mock Tinseltowns bad behavior were Paddy Chayefskys Network and Blake Edwards S.O.B. Alas, due to their R-rated content and the huge amount of cynicism found in both (we get too much of that from todays media outlets), I cant advise you to view either of them. Its a shame, because Chayefskys skewering of the television industry is even more poignant today than back in 1976 when the film won several awards. And Blake Edwards (the Pink Panther series) paints the film industry with brush strokes of glib, often hysterical satire.

What Just Happened achieves the same objective, mostly. I laughed a great deal through the first two-thirds. The writing is sharp and penetrating, the acting, especially from Catherine Keener in a small role as a studio chief, dead on. But then I began to sense that the film was wallowing in its mockery. I was feeling the joke (the films statement) had no punch. While Network and S.O.B. had no lasting impact on their respective industries, at least they were enlightening to Mid-America. By now, Mid-America, and all the rest, are painfully aware that the media is full of (you fill in the blank).

Well, since Im always harping on the irreverent and crude language used by most actors to express feelings of anger, frustration, or even joy and ecstasy, Ill not dwell on the six profanities or the 70 obscenities in this film. Well just leave it at that. I mean, theyre just words, right? Whats the big deal?

DVD alternative: The Bad and the Beautiful. A writer, an actress and a director each tell the story of a self-centered film producer and the impact he had on their lives and careers. In B&W and its not a comedy, but it is the winner of five Oscars and good storytelling. Stars Kirk Douglas, Lana Turner, Dick Powell and Barry Sullivan.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Magnolia Pictures

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: A couple of crude sexual remarks.

Obscene Language: Around 70 obscenities

Profanity: Six or so profane uses of Gods name or Christs.

Violence: Bruce Willis, playing a caricature of himself, throws a tirade, his language and threatening manner are abusive these scenes are played for laughs; an action sequence in the movie within the movie has a man and his dog being shot and killed, blood splattering; it is played often in the editing room. Blood: Blood splatters from a dog being shot.

Sex: Two aftermaths of sexual activity.

Nudity: A bare breast.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Smoking, drinking and implied drug use.

Other: None

Running Time: 111 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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