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What Just Happened

MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for language, some violent images, sexual content and some drug material.
not reviewed
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Comedy, Drama
1 hr. 47 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October 17, 2008 (limited—36 theaters)
DVD: February 24, 2009
Featuring: Robert De Niro, Bruce Willis

Stanley Tucci
“The Devil Wears Prada,” “The Terminal,” “Lucky Number Slevin”

John Turturro
“O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” “Transformers,” “Quiz Show”

Kristen Stewart
“Jumper,” “Into the Wild,” “Panic Room”

Lily Rabe, Dennis Albanese, Emily Alpren, Florence Annequin, Ari Barak, Moon Bloodgood, Felix J. Boyle, Virginia Bryant, Scott Burn, Alessandra Daniele, Cayleen Davies, Vincent De Paul, Aubrey Dickinson, Jay Ferraro, Aura Figueiredo, Jill Flint, Leslie Dawn Forsyth, Karina Friend Buck, Julia Frisoli, JR Garcia, Phil Gardiner, Logan Grove, Frank Hansen, Marin Hinkle, Mark Ivanir, Peter Jacobson, Lu Johnson, Kalina Justice, Brandon Keener, Catherine Keener, Ayla Kell, Stefania Koszti, Kat Kramer, Laurie Lee, Dimitri Lekkos, Paul Lieber, Ron Li-Paz, Paydin LoPachin, Jacques Maroun, Kristopher Maslardzievski, Jared Morrison, Alex Norca, Ali Olomi, Sean Penn, Tom Probst, William Ragsdale, Monica Ramon, Jean-Michel Richaud, Wendy Riordan, Brent Rose, Bess Rous, Tiffany Scott, Remy K. Selma, Scott L. Treger, Sonny Vellozzi, Michael Wincott, Robin Wright Penn, Dey Young
Director: Barry Levinson
Wag the Dog,” “Man of the Year
Producer: Mark Cuban, Robert De Niro, Eric Kopeloff, Art Linson, Jane Rosenthal, Todd Wagner
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

This film is based on the book What Just Happened?: Bitter Hollywood Tales From the Front Line by Art Linson.

“In Hollywood, everyone can hear you scream.”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: ‘What Just Happened’ is a sharp comedy about two nail-biting, back-stabbing, roller-coaster weeks in the world of a middle-aged Hollywood producer—as he tries to juggle an actual life with an outrageous series of crises in his day job.

Academy Award® winning director Barry Levinson reunites with Academy Award® winning actor Robert De Niro and leading producer Art Linson, who wrote the screenplay based on his bestselling memoir. They all join with an all-star cast in this rollicking, shrewd tale of a man besieged by people who want him to be all sorts of things—a money maker, an ego buster, a bad news breaker, an artistic champion, a loyal husband, an all-knowing father, not to mention sexy, youthful and tuned-in—everything except for the one thing he and all the preposterously behaved people he's surrounded by really are: bumbling human beings just trying to survive by any means necessary.

Ben (DE NIRO) is already in over his head trying to balance the tug-of-war of having two ex-wives and two different families with his latest business venture—the boldly “visionary” movie ‘Fiercely’ starring Sean Penn—when everything that can go wrong goes completely screwy.

Fiercely looks like an audience-offending flop which draws the ire of iron-gloved studio chief Lou (Catherine Keener), who forces him into tangling with the film's rebellious and drug-addled director Jeremy (MICHAEL WINCOTT). Meanwhile, he's confused and bewitched by his ex Kelly (Robin Wright Penn) who can't make up her mind about him; shocked by his daughter Zoe (Kristen Stewart), who seems to have grown up overnight; infuriated by his screenwriter friend Scott (Stanley Tucci) who's trying to make a deal with him while making moves on his former wife; horrified by a hirsute Bruce Willis (BRUCE WILLIS) and flummoxed by Willis’ nebbishy agent Dick (John Turturro), who's scared to death of his own clients.

Somehow amidst all the madness, treachery, deceit, runaway egos, rampant commercialism, personal politics and atrocious behavior of America's dream-making machinery, Ben has to find a way not just to make it to Cannes with a finished film, but to cope…”

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Movie Critics
…This isn't a Hollywood satire, it's a sitcom. …
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…funny, sly and highly stress-inducing movie… The movie is brilliant at portraying the incredibly high stakes of the seemingly inconsequential and the tremendous amounts of money spent on it. …
Carina Chocano, Los Angeles Times
…A satirical look at Hollywood lives, viewed through a cynical lens… “Who cares?” I’m asking in earnest. Who, exactly, do Mr. Levinson and the screenwriter, Art Linson, expect to invest time and interest—to say nothing of thought or feeling—in this meandering, passive-aggressive comedy of Hollywood inconsequence?…
A.O. Scott, New York Times
…the real tragedy of “What Just Happened” isn’t that it succumbs to predictable pseudo-satirical farce but that when it does, it loses sight of the very thing that could have made it a film worth caring about…
Josh Rosenblatt, Austin Chronicle
…A story very much by, about and for middle-aged men, and with the commercial limitations that implies, this intermittently amusing outing is graced by one of Robert De Niro's more engaging performances of recent vintage. …
Todd McCarthy, Variety
…the film as a whole kind of sort of feels like four episodes of “Entourage” back to back. … The soundtrack is a marvelous monster…
Elliot V. Kotek, Moving Pictures Magazine