Film Comment - 09/01/2008
"Robert De Niro gives his most natural, non-self-parodying performance in a decade as the Linson figure Ben, striking a fine balance of cosmopolitan bemusement, low-intensity terror, and almost-controlled, repeatedly displaced jealousy."
Total Film - 11/01/2008 3 stars out of 5 -- "Its universe is a cracked mirror of Hollywood....Robert De Niro is ideally suited to playing his harassed alter-ego Ben..."
Entertainment Weekly - 10/24/2008
"[The film] has dryly obscene, laugh-out-loud lines, and its portrait of Hollywood as a giant anxiety attack is fused by De Niro, who musters a desperate, nagging warmth beneath his grumbly facade." -- Grade: B
USA Today - 10/17/2008
"The performances are good (some scarily realistic), and the movie is enjoyable....W. is absorbing and amusing to ruminate over."
Sight and Sound - 11/01/2008
"De Niro's effortless, engaging performance -- striding around trying to please everyone...ensures that Levinson's film is a more affectionate kick in Tinseltown's ribs."
Rolling Stone - 11/30/2008
"Willis is a hoot as a nightmare version of himself. There are funny scenes, nicely directed by Barry Levinson."
Premiere - 02/23/2009
"If you're into the behind-the-scenes working of Hollywood, then you'll enjoy it; It's really keyed into the insecurity and tenuous nature of showbiz; De Niro is solid as usual..."
Entertainment Weekly - 02/27/2009
"[De Niro] shines as a frazzled producer who two exes and a pair of celluloid nightmares....The message is: Everyone in Hollywood lies...mostly to themselves."
How have the internal machinations of the film industry changed since Robert Altman expertly dissected them with the biting satire of THE PLAYER (1992)' Not a whole lot, according to this witty picture from Barry Levinson, which has been crafted from Hollywood producer Art Linson's memoir of the same name. WHAT JUST HAPPENED' follows film producer Ben (Robert De Niro) as he deals with precocious directors and stars, tends to the needs of various ex-wives, and makes multi-million-dollar deals from his car. The film mixes fantasy and reality, with Sean Penn and Bruce Willis playing themselves, while a fictional director (played by Michael Wincott) and producer (played by Catherine Keener) feud over the editing of a new feature. Ben finds himself stuck in the middle of their wrangling while also striving to persuade the cantankerous Willis to shave off a newly grown beard, or else face the cancellation of a huge-budget feature.
Levinson's film proficiently highlights the behind-the-scenes absurdities of the film industry. De Niro is perfectly cast as Ben, a sympathetic figure whose personal life has been obliterated by the demands of the job. John Turturro's scene-stealing appearances as a goofy agent are among the many highlights, and prove how remarkably adept he is at playing off-the-wall cameos (see also: THE BIG LEBOWSKI). The film frequently returns to the duplicitous nature of the industry, particularly in Ben's dealings with his scriptwriting friend, Scott (Stanley Tucci), who is simultaneously sleeping with the beleaguered producer's ex-wife and trying to persuade him to find funding for a movie. Levinson skillfully prevents his feature from becoming too downbeat, ultimately turning in a tragicomic dissection of the film industry that leaves little doubt that nice guys finish last and the demands of the industry will always trump those of the artist.
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