Judy Greer’s directorial debut, the lozenge-sized, exasperatingly bad Los Angeles-set single-day “web of life” comedy “A Happening of Monumental Proportions,” clocks in at under seventy-five minutes before the end credits. It’s a kind gesture in a cut-cut-cut narrative mess that steams through an exceptional boatload of performers: Jennifer Garner, John Cho, Common, Allison Janney, Katie Holmes, Bradley Whitford, Nat Faxon, Marla Sokoloff, Rob Riggle, Storm Reid, Anders Holm, Kumail Nanjiani, Mary Birdsong and Melissa Brickman. The most valuable takeaway: actors love Judy Greer almost as much as anyone who’s treasured her indelible charm on screen across the years. But no such luck here. Gary Lundy’s episodic screenplay is rotten from the premise up: It’s career day at a Los Angeles middle school and the adults struggle to hide a corpse from the student body and parents alike. (Who truly has fond memories of “Weekend at Bernie’s”?) Cue tonal misfires and a wealth of bumptious music. Eight producers are credited, including Paul Weitz and Chris Weitz. 81m. (Ray Pride)
“A Happening of Monumental Proportions” opens Friday, September 21 at Facets.
Ray Pride is Newcity film critic and a contributing editor of Filmmaker magazine. He is also a photographer: his history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images is forthcoming. Previews on Twitter (twitter.com/chighostsigns) as well as daily photography on Instagram: instagram.com/raypride. Twitter: twitter.com/RayPride. (Photo: Jorge Colombo.)