TV & Video Review: ‘What Just Happened’ (DVD)

When this many stars agree to be in a movie, it has to be interesting.

Ben (Robert De Niro) is a movie producer, which it turns out is often synonymous with babysitter. He must hold the hand of a director (Michael Wincott) while he throws a tantrum over an edit required by the studio exec (Catherine Keener). Ben must also convince a nervous wreck (John Turturro) to do his job as an agent and tell his actor (Bruce Willis) he must shave his beard or the film doesn't shoot. Not surprisingly, Ben's personal life is in shambles because he's always put the needs of the movies first.

There are various television shows and movies preceding this release that explore what's behind the curtain; however, few have been this accurate. As it turns out, since this is based on the memoirs of a film producer, the Hollywood crowd really is eccentric. Most of the incidences in the picture, no matter how unbelievable, are based on real-life experiences.

Getting through this movie requires an interest in the movie industry or at least an appreciation of the actors involved – which also include Sean Penn, Stanley Tucci, Robin Wright Penn and Kristen Stewart. Otherwise, no matter how quirky the characters, the narrative won't keep your interest. It dabbles in Ben's messy personal life, in addition to the treacherous world of backstabbing and greed, which affects the pace.

The DVD bonus features include audio commentary by director Barry Levinson and writer Art Linson; two deleted scenes, including an alternate ending that changes the tone of the conclusion; casting sessions for 12 unknown actors paralleled with their screen performances; a fly-on-the-wall behind-the-scenes piece; a “making of” section featuring interviews with Levinson, Linson and De Niro; and a cute short spotlighting the starring dog, who takes a moment to inform everyone he’s okay.

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