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What Just Happened?

Critic's Pick Critics' Pick

(No longer in theaters)
  • Rating: R — for language, some violent images, sexual content and some drug material
  • Director: Barry Levinson   Cast: Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener, John Turturro, Robin Wright Penn
  • Running Time: 107 minutes
  • Reader Rating: Write a Review

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Genre

Comedy, Drama

Producer

Robert De Niro, Art Linson, Jane Rosenthal

Distributor

Magnolia Pictures

Release Date

Oct 17, 2008

Release Notes

Limited

Official Website

Review

Robert De Niro once immersed himself in his roles to the point of nuttiness; now he cultivates a wry detachment in which dyspepsia substitutes for angst. He still has killer timing, though. His performance in the Hollywood-set comedy What Just Happened? has a wonderful deadpan foolishness. He plays a big-deal producer with professional and personal headaches, including a volcanic star (Bruce Willis, as himself) who refuses to shave a rabbinical beard for a film, and a soon-to-be-ex wife (Robin Wright Penn, blessedly grounded) who won’t take him back. As in many Hollywood satires, there’s no indication whether the projects in question are good enough to justify the histrionics. (It makes a difference.) But Barry Levinson directs snappily, and Art Linson (who wrote the script based on his memoir) nails the Wittgensteinian linguistic complexity of Hollywood-speak, in which truths are elaborately circumnavigated. What Just Happened? is a doodle, but its aura of dread seems earned.

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