What Just Happened? (2008) Review

I expected something else from What Just Happened? Not an entirely different film but a much more satirical, funny and exposing look at the movie industry that I’ve seen in other shows and films before. Considering the cast it had behind it, I thought this would be a funny look at the industry that took a chance to mock itself.

The movie is this, to some extent. It has a downtrodden producer, played by Robert De Niro who is just above cruise control. He interacts with the usual group of players in Hollywood, from a director who’s made a terrible movie, rival producers, one of which is played by Stanley Tucci and of course difficult actors – probably the highlight of the movie in (fat) Bruce Willis.

A great cast – including “fat” Bruce Willis


There are some light moments that do seem to shine some sort of light on the business but nothing that I really expected and it doesn’t seem to go anywhere near as deep as I’d hoped. Considering we have had For Your Consideration or Ricky Gervais’ Extras, this movie doesn’t tear into Hollywood anywhere near as much as others have managed too.

In fact, you have to ask yourself what kind of story the film makers were trying to tell. What Just Happened? amounts to “being a film producer is hard” which it probably is. What we have been presented looks more like a far too realistic view of a producer’s life rather than a comedy, sideways glance at the industry that I thought it was trying to be.

The movie isn’t the clever satire I expected or wanted it to be


When the movie is over, you kind of guess the resolution and ending and are left wondering what the point of it all was. The message doesn’t seem to be “Hollywood is crazy” or “don’t become a producer.” It seems to be “don’t work with Bruce Willis” who is actually the best thing in this!

Overall, What Just Happened seems like a missed opportunity. There are some funny moments and some clever points that I’m sure imitate real life but none of them feel like a huge satirical jab at the industry. With a cast as accomplished as De Niro and Willis, I’d expect better but De Niro in particular seems to be floating through his own film aimlessly.

Rating – 2.5

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

A missed opportunity



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