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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Re: I’d Rather Go Down on a Goat

posted by on June 18 at 15:05 PM

So, I know you guys have already discussed it to death already, but I promised you I would investigate M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening (and any intelligent design tendencies therein) over the weekend. And so I did.


Whatever its other faults (and there are plenty), The Happening is not intelligent design propaganda. The lecture about disappearing honeybees that science teacher Mark Wahlberg delivers is totally incoherent, but it doesn’t follow that its particular brand of nonsense is the cleverly disguised creationism we’ve all grown to know and love. Yes, the science teacher uses the phrase “just a theory.” But he’s using it in the colloquial sense—he’s actually criticizing a student’s hypothesis, not evolution or gravity or another thoroughly substantiated explanation of natural phenomena. And even as he asserts that sometimes it’s proper to attribute scientific phenomena to “an act of nature,” he drills his students on a decent approximation of the scientific method. There is some nonsense about “rapid evolution” that occurs across several separate populations simultaneously, but that’s just a junk-science plot convenience. It won’t make anyone more susceptible to believing in ID.

The funny thing is, in the movie’s universe, “an act of nature” is no mystery. It’s literal.

I’m hiding the rest of this after the break, but honestly, I don’t see how something can be a spoiler when it’s revealed in the first half hour. (There is no final act twist—Shyamalan has abandoned his gimmick.)

In this movie, “an act of nature” can be taken literally: “Nature” acts. Basically, the trees and grasses and bushes are pissed because people are living too close together. So they release some poison that blocks people’s instinct toward self-preservation—and it’s soooooooo powerful that the people promptly kill themselves using the nearest available hairpin, towering height, tiger, lawn mower, wall, etc. The Happening (isn’t it amusing that a movie this square has a title recalling ’60s performance art?) observes that the U.S. population is the most dense in the Northeast. So it’s only Northeastern trees that “rapidly evolve” this toxic spray. The moral of the story is: Reduce the human population, or else.

But at the end, why not reproduce? A Mark Wahlberg-Zooey Deschanel baby would be soooo cute! That’ll show them trees.

RSS icon Comments


it's been a long, long time since I've seen a movie *this* bad.

Posted by happy renter | June 18, 2008 3:19 PM

The movie may suck, but it doesn't deserve all the scorn heaped upon it as a supposed tool of the Discovery Institute. Jesus, guys, you've got a hair trigger.

Posted by Greg | June 18, 2008 3:22 PM

But it does deserve scorn for being a stupid anti-density agit-film.

Posted by vooodooo84 | June 18, 2008 3:27 PM

M. Night sucks! Yay! This is fun!


Posted by Sally Struthers Lawnchair | June 18, 2008 3:41 PM

you forgot to mention that the trees can apparently control the wind because every time it gets windy marky mark says "run! it's coming!" or some such drivel.

i wish i could undo the memory of this movie.

Posted by skye | June 18, 2008 3:42 PM

I hear Marky Mark JUST HATES IT when people call him Marky Mark, or bring up The Funky Bunch.

Posted by Fnarf | June 18, 2008 3:44 PM

@5 duh haven't you read calvin and hobbes? wind is caused by trees sneezing.

Posted by vooodooo84 | June 18, 2008 3:45 PM

And they're really stupid trees, too, because density is the one thing that keeps us from mowing down all the forests so we can put houses on half-acre plots.

Posted by seattle mike | June 18, 2008 4:08 PM

I bust out laughing during the scene where they were running scared in the meadow. I haven't seen that kind of meteorological mayhem since Jake Gyllenhaal outran a deep freeze in "The Day After Tomorrow".

Posted by madamecrow | June 18, 2008 4:11 PM

jake can run into my deep freezer any time

Posted by benxer | June 18, 2008 4:14 PM

jake can run into my deep freezer any time

Posted by benxer | June 18, 2008 4:16 PM

I didn't want to believe the reviews so I went to see it last night. I conquer with your assessment. Barf.

Posted by Carollani | June 18, 2008 4:16 PM

Tell us more about the goat.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | June 18, 2008 4:18 PM

Shyamalan is the John Singleton of the Supernatural. I can't figure how he brings in the numbers to still get projects bankrolled, much less use his name so heavily in advertising.

Posted by Dougsf | June 18, 2008 4:54 PM

This movie pissed me off so much.

Posted by Kristen Truax | June 18, 2008 8:34 PM

I liked his first 4 films and was hoping reviewers were just hatin'...

Ugh, the movie was just plain crap.

I still like Marky Mark though. Its not like he wrote it or anything.

Posted by Jeremy from Seattle | June 19, 2008 8:37 AM

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