The M. Night Career Trajectory Award

Why does M. Night Shyamalan hate me? Why does he hate himself?

I am going to spoil “The Happening” because if you plan on seeing it, you will thank me later. It’s about plants ganging up to send humans a message by emitting a toxin in the wind that somehow makes us want to suddenly stop walking and kill ourselves. If you’re ever in a park and everyone stops walking, but one person is walking backwards, run away!

There’s this part where a guy tries to kill himself by provoking a den of lions. It’s really unintentionally hilarious. Then, later, this guy starts a riding lawn mower and lies down in front of it. That’s not as funny, but the CGI blood effect is remarkable. I don’t think the plants like us because we haven’t learned to get along after all this time, it’s never made very clear, but by the end of the movie, you realize the plants also hate the French, which comes as a bit of a relief.

There, I just saved you guys about eight to ten dollars.

The point of this post is to start an award for people whose careers are plummeting fast. M. Night, of course, is this year’s winner, having won it a few years earlier for “Lady in Water.” He narrowly beat out the Wachowski brothers whose “Speed Racer” cost millions and made very little.

Who else out there has squandered a career after a promising beginning?

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24 thoughts on “The M. Night Career Trajectory Award

  1. I have to agree about George Lucas. Everything he did before the latest trilogy was so great, whether producing or directing.

    M Night made one of my favorite films, it’s sad how far down he’s gone.

  2. How can this be from the man who gave the world the sheer awesomeness that is Unbreakable?

  3. What’s so weird to me is that Shyamalan’s marketing was to go on lots of science based podcasts or radio shows to promote the film. The only problem is that it’s pseudo-science gibberish and he keeps spouting things that are wrong. (On NPR’s Science Friday he talked about how he was inspired by Einstein’s deep faith in God and the idea there was something more whereas Einstein said nothing of the sort and was at best a pantheist like Spinoza)

    I really wonder about the guy.

    I feel bad because I loved his first few films. Unbreakable is still an underrated gem in my book. Right around Signs the signs were on the wall. The Village was pretty disappointing and I’ve not bothered to watch anything since.

  4. You might be right, Susan. In Hollywood you might lose before you begin. However, look at a guy like Christopher Nolan. He hasn’t made a bad movie in my book. Some people just have better taste, judgment, and awareness of their own ability.

    I think M. Night suffers from a lethal combination of cockiness and lack of self-awareness.

  5. Clark,

    There’s this quote from Einstein written on a chalkboard in an early scene in “The Happening”, where Einstein says that when the bumblebee goes extinct humans have got about four more months. Although, apparently Einstein never said anything of the sort.

    I also understand that M. Night got eight figures for this film. That’s mind-boggling to me.

  6. M. Night is an example of what happens when you start believing the “yes men” around you and start thinking all critics have no clue and are just out to get you.

    The same thing is true of Lucas.

    Alternatively some people just only have a handfull of good movies in them.

  7. Come on — Lady In The Water wasn’t that bad. I found it amusing. The dude who lifted weights on only one side of his body was worth the cost of the rental alone!

  8. I got turned off that movie when I heard a commercial say this was his “first R rated movie!” and they were saying it very excitedly. Like that is cause for some great award or something…Glad it was lame.

  9. The movie was bad, but it was made even worse by the horrible acting by nearly every single person. It was hilarious watching it.

  10. The thing that really bothers me is that Shyamalan will be ruining the Last Airbender movie. The animated series is so great that it pains me to know that the movies will suck.

    Richard Kelly might also qualify for the award. I hear his follow up to Donnie Darko (Southland Tales) was a mess.

    I was concerned that Wes Anderson was heading that direction , but I think the Darjeeling Limited was a step in the right direction. I think there are a lot of critics who disagree, though.

    Hey, maybe it should be called the American Express Commercial Award.

  11. Yeah, I was suspicious when it was advertised as his “first R rated movie”. Like that is going to drive troves of people out to see it. Weirdly though, I have met several people who begged for Star Wars Episode 3 to be rated R. Some people just like to see blood/violence/language. They think it’s more real or something.

    I’m assuming “The Happening” is rate R for the blood/violenc?

  12. Darjeeling was better that was the mess of Life Aquatic. But neither were in the same league as his earlier 3 films.

  13. No one has mentioned Rob Reiner yet. This Is Spinal Tap, The Sure Thing, Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Misery, A Few Good Men. Then he made a movie with Elijah Wood called North that was unwatchable and it seems since this time, he hasn’t made anything worth watching. I haven’t seen The Bucket List yet. But he’s in need of a hit as much as anybody.

  14. Wasn’t Ghosts of Mississippi a hit for him? Ditto The American President? Admittedly nothing since then has been but he hasn’t made that many films.

  15. I won’t be seeing this in the theatre, but I’ll probably rent the DVD, if only to see how bad it is. (Did the same for Lady in the Water… and yes, it sucked pretty bad).

    But Shymalan is battin 4 for 6 in my book, not the worst average in the world. The Village and Signs have their problems, but on the whole come out a net positive, I think.

    Wes Anderson, on the other hand… nevermind, don’t get me started.

    Brian de Palma also deserves some derision for squandering his late career.

    And it pains me to say this, but so does Woody Allen, despite Match Point.

    I hold my nose for Francis Ford Coppola as well. Dracula (1992) excepted, he hasn’t directed a decent film in 25 years.

    Robert Rodriguez, I nominate you as well. Actually, you always kind of sucked. Same with you Edward Burns and Kevin Smith. In retrospect, even your early films were awful.

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