Mark Wahlberg admits 'The Happening' was terrible. What? No!

Once in a blue moon, Hollywood releases a film that forever changes the face of cinema. The Godfather. Gone With the Wind. Star Wars. Obviously, M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 critical flop The Happening is not one of them. But it certainly changed my life. Two whole years after the film hit theaters — I had cast the thought of seeing it aside upon reading the approximately, oh, 537th bad review — a fellow bad-movie-loving friend persuaded me to watch the Mark Wahlberg flick after a night of heavy drinking classy conversation about the intricacies of Proust’s work. And somewhere between listening to Wahlberg talk earnestly to a high school science class about bees and watching a lion rip off an extra’s arm, I was instantly hooked. It was official: The Happening was the funniest movie about mass death I had ever seen.

When I say my life changed after watching the credits roll, I’m not kidding. Instead of using original thought to participate in everyday discussions, I became a Happening quoting machine, listening intently for a moment in which I could insert lines like “Can you believe how crappy people are?” or “Take an interest in science!” or “You know, hot dogs get a bad rep. They got a cool shape, they got protein. You like hot dogs, don’t you?” into normal discussion —  whether or not the parties involved were even Happening fans. (I’ll even save you the painful soliloquy about a “completely superfluous bottle of cough syrup,” even though, yes, I know it by heart.) Weekend nights soon became dedicated to Happening drinking games — involving alcoholic lemon drinks and, yes, cheese and crackers — and attempts to break down the following line into something that actually makes sense: “Ain’t no time two people staring at each other, or standing still, loving both with their eyes are equal.” Surprisingly, that actually is dialogue from the film, and not an e.e. cummings poem.

In fact, I adore The Happening so much that I’ve written more than 300 words before actually addressing my reason for even writing this post. During a press conference for his upcoming film, The Fighter, Wahlberg (at last!) addressed The Happening when discussing Fighter costar Amy Adams, who apparently was up for Zooey Deschanel’s role in the Shyamalan film: “We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie, and it was a really bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to…I don’t want to tell you what movie…all right, The Happening. F— it. It is what it is. F—ing trees, man. The plants. F— it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook.” Okay, so that explains the mystery surrounding why Wahlberg took the role. But one thing we still don’t know: Why aren’t you all interested in what happened to the bee bodies?

I do, however, have one thing to say to Wahlberg regarding his apparent regret making the film: What? No! (I know, I’m sorry. I just…can’t…resist.) Look, I devoured Wahlberg’s performance in The Departed and thought he was the best thing about Date Night, but I have never adored the actor more than during the 91 minutes he starred in Shyamalan’s greatest nonachievement. There is something so undeniably appealing about his consistently furrowed brow, his enthusiastically delivered lines, and his dedication to seeing this craptastic masterpiece through — even if it meant talking to a ficus. (And you thought Deschanel was Wahlberg’s most wooden costar!) So, Mark Wahlberg, friend, don’t diss The Happening unless you mean it — we’ve all made mistakes, so let’s just own this hilarious disaster. (I, for one, already do.) After all, I’ll never forget that my mood ring turned purple the first time I popped in the DVD — and, as you know, that means I was in love. Oh, no, wait, it just meant I was horny. WHY ARE YOU SAYING THESE THINGS IN FRONT OF AN 8-YEAR-OLD ORPHAN, ZOOEY DESCHANEL?!

Read more:
‘The Happening’ EW review
M. Night Shyamalan Tells Us What’s ‘Happening’
Moviegoers laugh at sight of M. Night Shyamalan’s name. How has it come to this?

Comments (181 total) Add your comment
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  • Mr. Holloway

    You been eyein’ my lemon drink?

    Funny article. Apparently, you were WAY ahead of me in recognizing this as the camp classic it is.

    The first time I saw it, I thought it was straight-up terrible (besides Leguizamo, who was really good) and I couldn’t believe Mark Wahlberg had actually been out-acted in a scene by a plastic plant.

    The movie is still horrible, but I’ve come to love the accidental comedic genius of Wahlberg (as the least-convincing science teacher in the history of mankind). This admission actually makes me like him more. It’s like when someone makes a joke, pretends that they were being serious, but then burst out laughing when they can’t hold it in more. Wahlberg admitting this movie was terrible is the equivalent of him finally bursting out laughing at this absurd movie.

    Zooey Deschanel, on the other hand, is still simply awful in this thing.

    • Di

      We know what happened to the bees. They went home. The Doctor used their trail to find and save the whole of reality – man don’t people know anything anymore?!

      • AT

        LOL! Pure win.

      • T

        Best answer ever!

      • AcaseofGeo

        I lost interest in this disjointed unamusing article. The movie wasn’t that bad; it made a statement “what if people just simply start dying off and there’s nothing you can do about it”. It was fairly scarey. I would’ve appreciated your article a bit better if it had stayed on topic, had a clear thesis, used the movie quotes in a better context, etc. etc. I think you tried to hard to be a funny writer and it fell way flat.

      • jules

        I think I love you, Di!

      • Tony

        Best reply to a post ever!!!

      • jason

        ya its not everyday you get the chance to make a Doctor Who refference hahaha

      • A

        Pure genius!

    • k t

      I saw it in the theatre and will admit that it was one of those “so bad it’s almost good” kind of movies, but the microphones were SO distracting. Did anyone else have this problem? Giant microphones appearing at the top or side of the screen. After the 6th or 7th time I tried to convince myself it was part of the movie and would be explained at the end. Like a crack in the whole suspended reality idea. No such luck.

      • Knugen

        I think that is the fault of the projectionist. So Shamalidiot dodged that one at least.

    • RCB

      But this is still better than The Last Airbender! It’s like M Night is trying to outdo himself in every movie, i.e., making bad movies.

      • Al

        horse crap. Airbender was a decent film. It couldn’t have been as bad as this movie supposedly is. This movie seems like it’s as bad as “Mission to Mars” or “Pearl Harbor” my two favorite horrid movies to puke on.

  • Calculus…calculus..

    I’m reading this post in the town of Princeton! Hey…wait…all the people around me are walking backwards. Should I be concerned?

    • mashmash

      Ah – yes Princeton and people walking backwards. Must be homecoming and all the Alum are drunk on campus. I always loved the temporary fences to keep them from being run over.

  • Josie

    I thoroughly enjoyed this film for all the wrong reasons, and stand by it.

    I think I shall have to start this drinking game of yours.

    • Dina

      The movie indeed is great for drinking games – and that’s because Whalberg in this crazy role is the hottest thing ever!

  • Babs

    I have to give the guy credit for acknowledging this stinker. If only Katherine Heigl or Jennifer Lopez would do the same…

  • CMU

    This made me want to watch this movie so bad. I haven’t seen it, but how can my life go on without seeing it after a glimpse into the genius?!

    • Canad

      I only saw this movie once and left the theater never wanting to experience anything like that again. I was completely disturbed. My comment may get totally beaten up, but I don’t agree with making money off of such a terrible tragic “happening” that takes place each and every day in our reality. Having lost a sister since in a similar tragedy, it disturbs me even more. Maybe I saw something others didn’t, but I just don’t know how anyone can find that movie good in anyway.

      • JPFlick

        A similar tragedy? You lost your sister when she had a sudden urge to kill herself? That sounds very sad. I’m not sure how anything in real life that has happened could possibly resemble that movie. I’m sorry.

      • Jelana

        Canad, I see your point, if you had a loved one commit suicide. I can only imagine families of murder victims feel the same way, as they are inundated with pop culture fiction, both intended as humorous and serious, about murders. I sympathize with you, but if ever there was a movie that deserved to be mocked, this is that movie.

      • Sparky

        Canad, I avoided this movie for a similar reason. My dad’s second wife committed suicide, as well… and I didn’t want to see that happening over and over again a movie screen.
        But now that I’ve sort of accepted the fact that this is a common subject in films, I’m interested in seeing this movie just for the lol factor. Especially after reading this article. XD

      • Brittany

        I hear you – I saw this movie opening night knowing nothing about the plot, six months after my father committed suicide. Worst movie-going experience ever, and that had nothing to do with the quality of the film. But I think any movie can be kind of traumatic when it hits close to home to our own bad experiences. I remember being pretty emotionally affected by “Mrs. Doubtfire” as a kid because my own parents were going through a divorce at the time.

    • OhNo

      A “similar tragedy?” While I am sorry for your loss, I’m afraid you’re going to have to provide more detail to clarify your comments.

      Did a ficus force your sibling to kill herself?

      • Canad

        Obviously not, but yes I lost my sister by suicide. I just didn’t need to sit through a film of the tragic ways that people kill themselves. Sure it was a movie, but was in very poor taste. I just couldn’t see what point he was trying to make. I know he is always trying to make some type of statement through all his films, but what was he thinking with this one? I don’t think I’ll ever understand.

  • Town of Filbert

    Great article, Kate. We particularly liked how you didn’t just give one us one piece of useless information at a time.

    • MCS

      You made my day

  • Clayton

    This headline made my day.

  • M

    I actually liked the movie!!!

    • MCS

      What? No!

      • the girl

        That clip is so high-larious! (What?? No!) I am officially putting this on my Blockbuster queue.

      • Kage

        MCS, that was awesome.

    • The dude

      I liked it too and in my opinion there is nothing better then a creepy original.

    • Scott Kinki

      Then go rent Signs, The Awakening and Lady in the Water and have a fantastic M Night Shamamlama Ding Dong weekend. SUUUUUUUUUUUCKS!!

    • CathyNY

      I liked it too. People don’t know creativity anymore, they just want mass produced crap that is all the same.

  • Marcus

    I am convinced that this movie was made bad on purpose. How can someone not realize how utterly ridiculous the entire concept was. I have a hard time believing Shyamalan didn’t know what he was making. Anyway, I’m glad you wrote this article. I concur wholeheartedly.

    • Mr. Holloway

      For a little while, I actually talked myself into thinking it was bad on purpose: then I saw “The Last Airbender.”

      M. Night Shymalan is simply not currently able to make a movie that is not terrible.

    • Ap

      “I have a hard time believing Shyamalan didn’t know what he was making.”

      Have you seen the other crap he’s out put? I think that he’s thinking too much.

    • Pedro

      You should watch ‘The Lady in the Water’. It’s as if he made it up as he went along.

      • gf120581

        He DID pretty much make it up as he went along. Didn’t it start as a bedtime story for his kids? That should have been the first warning, because a bedtime story is basically something you make up to put the kids to sleep. Which is what the movie did to the few suckers who actually paid to see it.

      • jules

        Hell, I watched it on a free Showtime weekend on Directv, and I felt robbed…of the 110 minutes that I’d never get back.

      • JG

        At least MKS is original. Aren’t all original stories made up by someone? It’s better than all the remakes, which I am particularly against since hearing that Buffy is being made into a movie without Joss Whedon! Blasphemy!

  • Kate

    I really enjoyed this movie when I actually paid to see it in theaters. There was nothing scary or mysterious about it, but it was in fact hilarious! I felt rude laughing through the whole thing, but the audience was pretty much doing the same thing.

    • etm

      Yeah, when I saw it in the theatre everyone was laughing!

  • Mr. Holloway

    …now, Mark: about “Planet of the Apes”…

    • AT

      I actually liked “Planet of the Apes”…

      • Mr. Holloway

        Thought the best thing about it, by far, was the makeup effects. Also, Tim Roth and Paul Giamatti gave strong performances, but what else is new? I also remember being slightly disturbed over being attracted to Helena Bonham Carter in that movie.

        Other than that I thought it was a disaster. The ending tried too hard to shock us and Wahlberg, in particular, was horrendous. (Worse than in “The Happening.”)

        I’m glad YOU liked it, though.

    • Chris

      Excellent call. He has this piece of bilge to answer for as well. Soooo…. disappointing!

    • JD

      Planet of the Apes.


  • Mac

    The Happening was a TERRIBLE film.
    But i have to say the scene in which Mark Wahlberg starts talking to a plant (which turns out to be fake) is one of the funniest scenes in recent cinema.

  • Dave

    Omg this is so awesome. The Happening is such a ridiculous movie. But it’s so unintentionally hilarious. I can’t help watching it whenever it’s on TV. “What?! No!” is one of the greatest quotes of all time.

    • MsSuniDaze

      “What?! No!” is one of the funniest scenes I’ve seen in a movie. It literally made me cry it was so bad/funny. That scene alone will make it a cult classic.

  • Rhys

    I have been waiting a long time for this article… to reinforce my secret belief that The Happening is the greatest comedy of the new millennium.

    • jules

      My favorite part was towards the beginning, when Zooey Deschanel’s character was watching the news about some of the happenings that were…happening…and her face literally did this: O_O I laughed out loud.

      • Rhys


  • RyanK

    I thought the funniest part about The Happening was that there were actually some parts that were very well shot. There would be good dramatic moments if the rest of the movie weren’t so horrible. So instead of being poignant and dramatic, those scenes just become even more hilarious. The scene with the camera following the gun, for instance, comes to mind. Couple that scene with a good well-acted script, and you have a rather haunting visual instead of a drinking game. It’s like Shyamalan gets so enthralled with shooting cool scenes that he completely forgets to, you know, write a decent script and direct his actors.

    • Mindy

      I know! I think in a lot of his movies Shyamalan has some great visuals. “Lady in the Water” actually looks pretty cool sometimes. But, then you start paying attention to the story and….. ugh.

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