What Just Happened
It seems like Hollywood’s new thing is to make fun of itself. This is what What Just Happened is about. But like most flash-in-the-pan trends (like Chihuahuas, Laguna Beach, and Gary Busey), it gets boring real fast. Despite its all-star cast, this isn’t much to write home about. Director Barry Levinson hasn’t directed much of interest either, although he’s produced some good stuff: Wag the Dog, and some of HBO’s Oz.
The story follows Hollywood power producer Ben (played by Robert De Niro) as he screws up most everything around him. He’s recognized as one of the thirty most powerful producers in Hollywood, yet he can’t seem to get a grip on his own life. He’s torn several ways, between multiple ex-wives, which he still seems to be in love with, his several children, his responsibilities to studio head Lou (the spectacular Catherine Keener), and the actors he works close with such as Sean Penn (playing himself) and Bruce Willis (also playing himself). He spends most of the movie trying to fix uninteresting problems and despite devoting a good two hours to this, nothing is really resolved.
This whole satire of Hollywood thing is getting kind of old, especially in What Just Happened”s case, where despite poking fun at themselves, they still end up looking like the good guys, and save the day at the end of the film. The script was written by Art Linson who also wrote the book the film is based on. His script writing is restricted to this film and 1978′s American Hot Wax (although, again, he’s produced some pretty cool stuff such as The Black Dahlia, and Into the Wild). The script ends up being nothing special, and the movie as a whole doesn’t bring anything to the table that hasn’t been seen before in the scores of Hollywood movies about itself. It’s a clumsy, half-assed piece that does provide a few laughs, but leaves your mind faster than you’ll leave your theater seat.