What Just Happened?

2008

What Just Happened?

Critics Consensus

What Just Happened has some inspired comic moments, but this inside-baseball take on Hollywood lacks satirical bite.

50%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 141

22%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 12,697
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Movie Info

Inspired by the personal memoirs of Hollywood producer Art Linson, Barry Levinson's fictional showbiz comedy stars Robert De Niro as a struggling movie producer who has just suffered through his second divorce, and slowly finds his soul being ground up in the machinations of the Hollywood machine. Ben (De Niro) is an aging producer whose career was already on a downward turn when his personal life went straight into the toilet. Not only is Ben juggling two ex-wives and a daughter who seems to have grown up overnight, but his colleagues seem to take pleasure in watching him suffer while he attempts to complete his latest film on an impossible schedule. "Fiercely" was supposed to be the visionary movie that revived Ben's career, but drug-addicted director Jeremy (Michael Wincott) has clashed with uncompromising studio chief Lou (Catherine Keener) following a disastrous test screening, and now it appears as if not even Sean Penn's presence in the film will be enough to make it a box-office hit. Meanwhile, Ben's ex-wife Kelly (Robin Wright Penn) can't seem to decide if she loves him or hates him, and his teenage daughter, Zoe (Kristen Stewart), has gone from playing with Barbie dolls to flirting with boys in the blink of a heavily mascaraed eye. As if that wasn't enough for one man to take in, screenwriter Scott (Stanley Tucci) is trying to broker a deal with Ben while simultaneously making a play for his former wife, and nebbish agent Dick (John Turturro) is so terrified of his own clients that he can't even ask Bruce Willis to shave his scraggly new beard for an upcoming role. It's all just another day in the world of runaway egos, treachery, betrayal, and deceit that is Hollywood, and if Ben can just make it to Cannes with a finished film under his arm and his sanity in tact, everything might just work out after all.

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Critic Reviews for What Just Happened?

All Critics (141) | Top Critics (42)

Audience Reviews for What Just Happened?

  • Sep 01, 2011
    What Just Happened? Is a unique comedy that has plenty of laughs. The comedy displayed on screen is off the wall, and may not appeal to a large audience, but this film manages to be a lot of fun. I thought the plot, though at times was well thought out, and the story was interesting, and not your average comedy. Watching this, you have to have an open mind, and immerse yourself into the story. Director Barry Levinson has made a terrific film. Some may not enjoy this, and others may be skeptical about watching it, but What Just Happened? manages to be a very well made comedy with brains. The cast are terrific and Robert De Niro is great in the part he plays another great performance is that of Michael Wincott. Wincott a very funny director who is making the film seen in this film. He suffers from a kind of breakdown once the studio threatens to recut the film after a negative screening of the film. I loved this film, I thought it had a well written story that managed to be funny, and above all the cast was great. If it would've been a different cast, I think this film wouldn't be as good as it was. There are of course questionable names in the cast such as Kristen Stewart, but she has such a minimal part, that the viewer won't even have the time Levinson has made another great film. If you like this type of Humor, then check this one out. What Just Happened? Is fairly underrated and it shouldn't get the flack it has received.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Mar 25, 2011
    Robert De Niro gives a low-key comic performance as Ben, a fading Hollywood producer whose latest film, directed by a mercurial, temperamental, egotistical British director Jeremy Brunell (Michael Wincott) and starring Sean Penn has a disastrous test screening because the arty director insists on killing off not only the hero but also, unforgivably, his dog. And Ben's next movie may not get made at all because his lead star, Bruce Willis reports to work for Ben's next film overweight and sporting a bushy beard he refuses to shave. Meanwhile, our beleaguered protagonist has a chaotic personal life. He is living in a soulless plastic-and-chrome apartment, has an ex-wife he can't totally let go of while thinking she might be sleeping with a writer (Stanley Tucci) he knows, and dealing with his rebellious teenage daughter who was having an affair with a much older agent who had just committed suicide. Inevitably, there comes the climactic scene in which the final cut of "Fiercely" makes its debut at the Cannes Film Festival. Will Jeremy Brunell stick to his guns and release a sure-fire failure, or will he bow to the whims of powerful producers and release a blockbuster? I guess you must watch it now to find out the answer to that question.
    Deb S Super Reviewer
  • Feb 24, 2011
    Ben: You're an agent. Delivering bad news is part of your job description.  "Admit nothing." What Just Happened? is a decent attempt at bringing Hollywood to a more honest light. Not everything seems to work, but there's a lot of great stuff going on in the film. We're given a great cast, a decent story, and a terrific director in Barry Levinson. As the film runs along, I was always interested. This movie hasn't gotten a lot of slack and it all just seems unjustified to me. Sure the movie isn't a masterpiece, but it's a serviceable drama with some great performances. A Hollywood film producer is being overcome by many negative factors that he has to deal with in his job. He's going through the divorce process, he has a movie that isn't being received well, that they need to recut, but a director who doesn't want to change it, and also another movie with a star actor(Bruce Willis as Bruce Willis), who doesn't want to shave his beard. He has to take all this on at the same time and still try to keep his sanity. Robert De Niro delivers a pretty good role here as the struggling producer. He's backed up by a good supporting cast that includes Stanley Tucci, Bruce Willis, Catherine Keener, Sean Penn, and Kristen Stewart. The cast is outstanding and that's what makes the movie work just enough. The cast makes the kind of boring story a lot more entertaining. In the end the film is worth a look and I enjoyed it. It has moments that are funny, if in an off the wall sort of way, but funny nonetheless. Also some of the satire on Hollywood is quite aggressive and interesting. Maybe all of it isn't completely original, but the way it's presented makes for a good time.
    Melvin W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 11, 2010
    The film was ok but it could have been so much better. The film reminded me too much of the movie, The Player. I felt like I have seen De Niro, Keener, Turturro, and Tucci play these types of roles before in other movies. I think it would have been better if other actors were cast in those roles, offering a fresh take on these types of characters. The pacing is a bit off. On the positive, Bruce Willis is hilarious in the film and every scene he is in, is funny. The screening at Cannes reminded me of the TV show Entourage when they had the screening of their film at Cannes.
    Sol C Super Reviewer

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