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The Happening

Starring: Spencer Breslin, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Mark Wahlberg
Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan
Director(s): M. Night Shyamalan

MPAA Rating: Unavailable

Reviewed by: El Mayimbe - 02.12.07

THE GREEN EFFECT
Written by M. Night Shyamalan
01/07/07 draft, 105 pages

I’m pissed!

M. Night Shyamalan recently went out with his spec THE GREEN EFFECT last month. It was a Pasadena around town. Pasadena is industry jargon for a pass all around. No takers. No buyers. Nothing. Mierda. Just another spec that went without a home.

The trades told us that the unveiling of the script did not immediately create a green effect for Shyamalan, as no studio liked it enough to take it off the table. Studios are understandably wary, since Shyamalan is coming off the first failure of his career, “Lady in the Water.”

So fucking what?

How many writer/directors make stinkers and still make movies afterwards?!

This is Shyamalan we are talking about here. The guy’s films have made billions.

I liked The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and enjoyed the hell out of Signs. The Village wasn’t really all that. In my book, the guy still has a very high batting average.

To the Directors of Development at the Studios...

Whichever Senior or Junior Creative Execs, whichever Story Editors or Readers passed on this particular script...

...FIRE THEM!

FIRE THEM WITH A VENGEANCE!

At tomorrow morning’s staff meeting, fire those motherfuckers who passed, show them the gates and kick those people to the damn curb.

NO SEVERANCE PACKAGE!

NADA!

JUST THE STREET!

People who passed on this have no business working in Story or Creative departments.

I would kill to see what the coverage at the studios was for THE GREEN EFFECT.

What is my rating? On the site I would say a B+.

In the industry, if I was doing the coverage for this script I would say in my comments STRONG CONSIDER WITHOUT RESERVATIONS!

It is very dangerous when good stories that are well told like this one go unsold.

With the passing of The Green Effect, what is that saying to the new crops of writers out there with unsold specs who naively want to try the spec market?

If a heavyweight with a proven track record like Shyamalan can’t sell a spec, what is that saying to a new writer of a great spec without that kind of juice?

Packaging also annoys me. Why is it that great specs on their own can’t sell yet mediocre specs with attachments do?

Hollywood is setting a dangerous precedent. We are living in a time where creativity is not being fostered but instead recycled.

Look at all the summer movies coming out... all sequels.

It is no wonder that movies are so damn bad these days.

Ok, so Shyamalan lost a screw or two with his last movie and got into it with Nina Jacobson. I read that book The Man Who Heard Voices and was the first to think the guy lost his mind.

Not even Shyamalan is above getting script notes and ok the guy could be a little sensitive but damn, he is an original voice, an original storyteller who comes up with nothing but original stories. A guy who told stories successfully in the past will one day tell stories successfully again.

Granted, he is one bad movie away from having the remainder of his career take place in Bollywood. Imagine that? Imagine Shyamalan doing The Sixth Sense Bollywood style where Haley Joel Osment and Bruce Willis break out in Song and Dance?! Imagine, “I See Dead People” as a dance number? I know, corny but I had to go there.

Anyways, I’m pissed because fools, YES FOOLS, passed on a potential hit for all the wrong reasons.

Who pays the price?

Us, the moviegoer.

I mean what was it? Was Shyamalan’s quote too high? Was there a list of demands? I mean what? It can’t be the script because, I’m sorry, it’s pretty damn good! I enjoyed the hell out of it. It was creepy and has a very good theme and premise.

The theme of the movie is that we better start taking care of our planet before our planet starts taking care of us! I think this message is important to get across too.

The premise of the film is about a large-scale, cataclysmic environmental crisis that turns into a struggle by mankind to overcome nature.

Imagine if nature was sick of our polluting ways and decided to restore Earth’s natural balance by wiping us out?

Imagine if we were powerless to do anything about it. Scary, huh?

Imagine if an invisible neurotoxin was admitted into the very air we breathe and caused us to commit suicide in any number of gruesome ways.

It’s not a WAR OF THE WORLDS.

It’s a script about survival. It’s a script about the preservation of our environment.

Let’s take a quick look at our setup.

In Downtown Philadelphia, we meet our hero in his early thirties ELLIOT MOORE, an aspiring musician (guitarist) who works as a science teacher. He gets into an argument with his wife ALMA MOORE who has decided to leave him. You see, Elliot’s problem is that he has a difficult time accepting things for what they are. He is in constant denial and that is his character arc which he must overcome by the end of the script.

Next scene at 8:36 a.m. in Central Park, a pair of women sit on a blanket at the dead center of the park. One of them is pregnant, the other has her hair in a bun. They each have a book. The wind blows the grass around them and the next thing you know, the woman with the bun in her hair starts stabbing herself in the throat!

Three blocks away from Central Park at a construction site in New York City at 8:59 a.m., the wind blows.

THUD! A construction worker falls to his death. Then another five more bodies crash down. The terrified Foreman looks up at the top of the twelve story steel framed structure and watches in horror as his workmen casually walk along the beams and step off the edge, one right after the other, like dolls off of a shelf.

Inciting incident time: In the next scene we are in Elliot’s classroom as he teaches a science class. The Vice Principal interrupts the class and takes Elliot to the teacher’s lounge where on page 10 the Principal tells us that there appears to be world events happening. Major cities in every country were hit with what seems to be a terrorist act.

It’s some kind of airborne chemical toxin that has been released. New York is one of the cities. They don’t know what the chemical does. They don’t know who is responsible for all this. All they do know is that the attacks originated in public parks in every city. The Principal spoke with the head of schools and said school is now dismissed.

In the same scene we also meet Elliot’s buddy, a math teacher named JULIAN. After Elliot dismisses his class, he meets up with Julian in the parking garage where Elliot tells Julian that Alma is leaving him. Julian is going to get his daughter Jess and wife Evette and meet up with Elliot at the train station.

At 10:04 a.m. on The New Jersey Turnpike (sidenote: Jersey drivers are the worst!) six miles outside of New York, both directions of traffic are crawling. Motorists inch forward down the highway. Most of the cars have their windows down.

Uh oh! A gentle breeze moves over the cars!

The highway is nestled by trees. They tower on either side. We see the reflection of the trees on the windshield of the cars as they move.

Suddenly, cars start crashing. One right after another. A man gets out of one car, walks up to another car with the windows up and smashes his face through the windshield!

Back at Elliot’s apartment, Alma is concerned at the news. She gets a call on her cell from her lover JOEY. Poor Elliot, Alma is going to leave him for another man. If he would have hit that correct, his wife wouldn’t be leaving him. You see, us Latin boys don’t have those issues with our women leaving us. My money says the JOEY character is a Latino who is hung like a water buffalo! LOL!

Anyway, she declines the call as Elliot comes in.

The news thinks it is one of three major terrorist groups but then again Moscow, Paris, Amsterdam, Nairobi and some other cities were hit. There is no political connection. Elliot and Alma pack their things.

At the Boston Music Institute in, of all places, Boston, Massachusetts (Ugh! New England!) at 10:36 a.m., we are at a student concert. The wind from the street blows through the windows. A handful of people start falling off their chairs. A young man takes his bow from his violin and shoves it down his throat like a sword swallower. Ouch.

Back in Philly, Alma and Elliot meet up with Julian and his seven year old daughter Jess at the 30th street train station. Reports have come in that the toxin being released is not synthetic but organic. Forty five cities have been hit now including Boston.

Jess’ mother Evette didn’t make it on time, she got stuck in traffic and is taking the next train. She was buying a dollhouse as a birthday gift for Jess. Aw shucks, or as us Latinos say, “Bendito.”

Julian, Jess, Elliot and Alma board the train.

At Rittenhouse Square Park in Philadelphia at 11:51 p.m., the wind blows through the park. More suicides. A police officer shoots himself in the head. Then a taxi driver picks up the gun and blows himself away. Then a woman walks over and picks up the gun to do the same.

Back at the train, Elliot, Alma, Julian and Jess discover that Philadelphia has just been hit and Julian is worried because Evette is still in Philly.

Julian text messages Evette and he finds out she has indeed made it out of Philly and is now on a bus headed to Princeton, New Jersey. We find out more about the neurotoxin that it effects speech first, then motor functions, then causes you the desire to hurt yourself.

The Crossing of the First Threshold scene/END OF ACT 1: The train stops in Filbert, New Jersey which is now the last stop because train service has been discontinued. Apparently, the train conductor has lost communication and contact with everyone. They are an hour away from Philly.

Our group heads into a diner where Julian is going to catch a ride back to Princeton to find Evette. He leaves his daughter Jess with Elliot and Alma. Sad and painful parting.

Now we all know that Julian won’t make it. He commits suicide by cutting his wrists early in Act II. One of those “Aw, man” scenes where a likable (the good dad) character doesn’t make it.

At the back of the diner, on the radio we find out that it is not a terrorist group after all. The trees, the plants, the grass, anything green is poisoning the air. It started at a Bio Lab in Alaska. People are being eradicated around the world by a poison made strictly for humans. It doesn’t affect animals.

Do Elliot, Alma, and Jess make it?

You’re going to have to find out after Shyamalan does his rewrite, submits his budget and goes back to round two with the studios. Apparently, he has hired his casting directors to cast the flick.

Overall, an interesting spin and original take on the end of the world as we know it movie.

Also of note, in this script, there are no Act 3 twists that M. Night is known for.

Now with this script, it is the first time for us over here at Latinoreview that we reviewed a spec online that was NOT bought by a studio. All of our script reviews, even our spec spotlights have found themselves a home before we reviewed them.

Our recommendation for this script:

STRONG CONSIDER

It is just a good story told well and warrants a home.

Writers are taught to write a good story well told and story people are taught to find them.

It’s a good script folks.

When I was hearing the rumblings around the town that it was a bad script, I was dying to get my hands on it and see for myself.

I expected the script to be whack and it wasn’t. I give everything I read a fair shot and leave my expectations at the door.

Apparently, M. Night was given notes by the studios to make the story better when he does his rewrite. Well that’d just smoke being blown up his ass.

My advice to M. Night is this: Yo, man make the movie cheaply with your own dough, Mel Gibson style and prove the studios wrong.

I enjoyed the hell out of the script.

HASTA EL PROXIMO CAPITULO...

...YO SOY EL MAYIMBE!

mayimbe@latinoreview.com


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