Some Guy Lets A Lawnmower Run Him Over

The lion guy isn’t the only darkly funny death in The Happening. In another scene, some gentlemen fires up a huge industrial lawn mower, then gets comfy on the grass right in front of it. The mower rolls forward over his (very fake looking) body, obliterating him in the process. Mark Wahlberg watches all this with that same goddamn puzzled look.

 

There’s an Entire Scene About Hot Dogs

Somewhere nestled in all this madness of killer trees and comical death scenes, there’s a lengthy discussion about hot dogs. Why? Who knows! Only  M. Night Shyamalan, master of twists! During their flight from all the death and mayhem, Wahlberg and Deschanel end up hitching a ride with a husband and wife. The husband, played by Frank Collison, deserves his own movie, because in his few brief scenes we learn that he uses binoculars to spy on his neighbors. He’s also the first person to figure out that plants are to blame for everything that’s happening. But best of all, he loves hot dogs. “We’re packing hot dogs for the road!” he says. “You know hot dogs get a bad rap. They got a cool shape. They got protein!” Later, he makes damn sure his wife is bringing mustard along (for the hot dogs). And we even get to see him eating a hot dog later. And then he dies. Off screen. I can only assume his last words were about hot dogs.

 

James Newton Howard Composes a Lovely, Haunting, Out-of-Place Score

The bulk of The Happening may be silly as all get out, but James Newton Howard’s score is not. Howard composes a lovely, melancholy score – the type of music that lingers with you; that makes you think of long, lonely nights, or gazing out a window at a stormy sea. It’s gorgeous, and therefore it does not belong in this movie. My favorite track is the one above, “Be With You”, which comes late in the film, during a scene where Wahlberg and Deschanel decide to embrace in a field of potentially deadly grass, consequences be damned. Howard’s composition blends slow-bowed strings and tinkling piano keys. It builds, and builds, instrument upon instrument gaining momentum. Then it slowly drops down – we hear only one sad violin accompanied by that piano. And eventually the piano is gone, and we’re left only with the strings. It’s achingly lovely. So what the hell is it doing in this killer plant movie? I have no idea, but I cherish it.

 

Mark Wahlberg Tries to Reason with a Plant

Killer trees and hot dog conversations aren’t the only fun things in The Happening. There’s also a scene where Mark Wahlberg tries to very nicely reason with a plant. The plant, which is inside a model home, appears to be moving, so Wahlberg approaches it the way someone might approach a rabid dog. Wahlberg insists he has nothing but positive vibes for this threatening plant, and asks the plant if it’s okay if they use the bathroom and then leave. It’s at this point he realizes the plant is in fact plastic, and the only reason it was moving was because it was under an air conditioning vent.

 

Mrs. Jones!

Everything I’ve mentioned so far is gold, but the true pièce de résistance of The Happening is Mrs. Jones, played by Betty Buckley. Mrs. Jones is an old woman living somewhere in rural Pennsylvania, and near the end of The Happening, Wahlberg, Deschanel and the child in their care, played by Ashlyn Sanchez, end up at her house. Mrs. Jones is oblivious to the happening going on in the rest of the world. And she’s also clearly insane. I’m talking right from the get-go. When Wahlberg rings a dinner bell on Mrs. Jones porch, she comments that that bell is actually for her dog. But we never see the dog. Mrs. Jones happens to be holding some lemonade in this scene, and after the confusing dog conversation, she asks Wahlberg, “Why you eyeing my lemon drink?”

Later, everyone is having dinner, and the tension has eased slightly. Mrs. Jones is acting sort-of-normal, and everyone is having a pleasant evening. Then Sanchez reaches for a cookie, at which point Mrs. Jones slaps her hand, really hard. What the hell is your deal, Mrs. Jones?

Later, Mrs. Jones confronts Wahlberg, asking: “Planning on stealing something?”

“No, ma’am, we’re not!” Wahlberg says.

“Plan on murdering me in my sleep?” Mrs. Jones asks.

“WHAT?!” Wahlberg nearly yells. “No!”

In one scene, Wahlberg strolls into a bedroom in Mrs. Jones’ creepy-ass house and sees a giant doll laying on a bed. And even though it’s clearly a doll, Wahlberg asks, “Mrs. Jones?” As if he thinks Mrs. Jones suddenly turned into this doll. But Mrs. Jones has not been magically transformed into a doll. Instead, she’s been infected by the killer plant toxin, and proceeds to smash her head through windows and into walls, eventually meeting her demise. I only hope that she’s somewhere in the afterlife enjoying a glass of lemon drink.

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