Sundance Movie Review: What Just Happened?

WHAT JUST HAPPENED?

What Just Happened? begins in a test screening for Fiercely, a new movie starring Sean Penn. The film concludes with the graphic gun-shot death of the hero and his dog, definitely not a crowd pleaser. Poor test scores prompt the studio to request a new cut of the film, but the director doesn’t want to sacrifice his artistic vision. Bruce Willis (played by Bruce Willis) shows up to rehearsals of a new film 30 pounds heavier and sporting a “Grisly Adams beard”, something the studio had not wanted nor expected. These are just some of the many problems in the life of Ben a fading Hollywood producer played by Robert De Niro. He’s one of those typical multi-tasking bluetooth talking blackberry typing producer that you imagine Hollywood is filled with.

What Just Happened is the best Hollywood satire since Robert Altman’s The Player. However, I’m afraid that this film might be too “inside baseball” for some people, but most of the people at Sundance (including myself) liked it, as to be expected. Some of the jokes are all too real. For example, the Bruce Willis storyline closely mirrors the story of Ryan Gosling’s run-in with director Peter Jackson on The Lovely Bones. I’m pretty sure the movie was filmed before all that controversy.

You never know, living in world where Entourage is one of the highest rated shows on HBO, maybe something like this could play to mass audiences. For fans of the show, this film might feel like a very extended episode not featuring Vince and friends. The storyline, as mentioned above, features a Billy Walsh type director fighting the studio for a non-mainstream idea. And the film is also set to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. What Just Happened is also Barry Levinson’s best film in the last 10 years, not that it means much.

/Film Rating: 7 out of 10

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About the Author

Peter Sciretta is a film geek and popcultured fanboy living in Los Angeles. He created /Film in 2005.

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