A funny film that skewers Hollywood.
A poor-man's Entourage.What Just Happened is your classic tale of Hollywood woes. Robert DeNiro plays a producer named Ben (who is based on Art Linson (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Untouchables) who also wrote the book and screenplay upon which this movie is based) whose world is crumbling around him. He has to deal with crazy directors, crazy actors (Bruce Willis and Sean Penn among others who are playing themselves), movies falling apart, and this doesn't say anything about what he has to go through in his personal life. So when all of these worlds collide it's amazing that Ben can even keep his sanity. This says nothing of the drugs, alcohol and other vices that make Los Angeles the other city of sin.
What Just Happened is an insider's look at Hollywood from someone who has been there, done that and then some.
Director Barry Levinson and Art Linson sit down and discuss the making of this movie. As both of these men have many years of experience in the film business, in addition to also the producing the movie, they brought a beyond keen insight in to the creation of this project. They talk about the script, what they were trying to achieve with certain scenes, why they wanted to make this movie, and just about everything else. I find it extremely interesting that this movie had as much trouble getting released as it did. It has nothing but bankable actors splattered across it yet it almost didn't come out? Have we really reached a point with filmmaking in this country that the only thing people want to see are comic book films? Is this all that the studios will back? I loved this commentary track but then again I love the movie business.
The featurettes that they give us on this release are:
-Behind the Scenes
-Making of What Just Happened
-No Animals Were Harmed in the Making of this Movie
I grouped all of these featurettes together because they were all quite similar or they ultimately supported the themes of the film. My favorite featurette was the Making Of mainly because I liked getting more behind the scenes information about this movie. It was well done, well made, but sadly, I wasn't able to discern what was or wasn't in the Blu-ray format. Another cool featurette was Casting Sessions just because this gave us more information on how certain talent came to be involved with this project.
1080p High Definition. 16x9 (2.40:1). This movie looked good on Blu-ray but again, as I wrote in some of my other reviews, I don't think that it needed to be in this format. We're not talking about some movie with epically done scenes, and it isn't like there was anything to really look for with this next generation format. Director of Photography Stephane Fontaine doesn't seem like he was going for anything too specific with the look of the film. In fact, it seems like Director Barry Levinson was quite content with filming the screenplay as is. As a result, we get a movie that is solidly done but doesn't really explode off the screen in any way.
English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitled in English and Spanish. This movie sounded solid. There are a lot of comedic moments. Some are straight up comedy, while others are merely site gags. None of these are any better than the others, but they all the rely on the simply done audio that seems to underscore what is happening on screen. I didn't hear anything that blew me out my seat, but I don't think that that is what was intended for this release. Everything was well put together without being too special.
Robert DeNiro is the main face on this cover with shots of the rest of the cast separately placed below him. The back cover features some more images from the film, a critic's quote, a description of this movie, a Special Features listing, technical specs and a credits list. There isn't anything that amazing about the packaging but it gets the point of this movie across quite well.
Perhaps this film might have been better served it had been made as a documentary? I say that because I have read Linson's other book, "Pound of Flesh" and I found that to be equally as interesting. In fact, in that book he tells a very interesting story about trying to get a table for himself and DeNiro when they were making The Untouchables. Apparently, DeNiro was so into his character and he looked so different that they were refused a place to sit at one of LA's hippest places. When I read that book I thought that it might make a good movie but that was before Entourage and Reality TV shows became so prevalent on the cable and television airwaves. Also, nowadays we get weekly reports of what movie made a gazillion dollars at the box office which wasn't always the case.
What is so fascinating is that in an industry that is lead by the 4 quadrant film, the movie that will appeal to any and everyone, it seems that the movies made about this industry really only have a niche audience. Afterall, do people in the Midwest really care about the inner-workings of the film business? Do they really care how hard it is for extremely overpaid people to be able to do their jobs? I think the answer is no and I think when you look at this A list cast, with a "Tiffany" director at the helm, it is a harsh reminder that a film like What Just Happened y be really interesting to the people it's actually lampooning.