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What Just Happened


Stars: Robert De Niro, Catherine Keener, Sean Penn, John Turturro, Bruce Willis, Michael Wincott, Robin Wright Penn, Stanley Tucci, Kristen Stewart

Director: Barry Levinson

Two weeks in the harried, frenzied life of a Hollywood producer (De Niro) with two ex-wives and a film by a British wunderkind that's dying on its feet. Film buffs and critics will chuckle at the modestly scabrous portrait of life inside a modern American studio, but there's little to attract mainstream audiences here.

A grizzled De Niro, in hammy mode, is the producer who must somehow force the director (Wincott) to salvage a movie which has been savaged by preview audiences and horrified the studio boss (Keener), while simultaneously trying to get back with his second wife (Wright Penn) and persuade Willis' agent (Turturro) to get his star client to shave off the bushy beard he has inappropriately grown for his latest role.

Then he finds the daughter he dotes on (Stewart) has been having an affair with another agent who's just shot himself.

The stars go to it with a will, but there's no snap in the dialogue, no story developments that seem worth hanging on to. Outstanding performance is by Canadian actor Wincott, with a wicked, mockney-accented impression of the grungily opinionated helmer.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Pathe. Technicolor.
102 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 27 Nov 2008