What Just Happened?
Barry Levinson’s tedious excuse for a Hollywood caper asks us to pity the poor movie producer — in this case, Art Linson, adapting his own memoir about trying to get good movies made in bad old Hollywood. To hear him tell it, Linson (nicely played under the radar by Robert De Niro) is just another harmlessly uxorious Everyman trying to win back his former wife (Robin Wright Penn) and daughters while wielding his Bluetooth on the freeway to fend off or placate the assholes, divas and neurotics whose mission in life is to thwart his every effort to bring art — or, failing that, Sean Penn — to the masses. What Just Happened? invites only schadenfreude. Bruce Willis is very funny as a tantrum-prone star who refuses to shave his scary beard, and Catherine Keener is amusingly uptight as a chilly studio head. Industry insiders may get a good snigger out of seeing thinly disguised acquaintances hung and quartered, but there’s no need to ask how this all too aptly titled, poorly lit and gratuitously handheld movie — which never for a moment transcends its narrow milieu — will play in Peoria. It won’t.