Tagline: “This is Ben’s life.”
Translation: This is Robert De Niro not acting like a caricature of himself or being in a Ben Stiller movie.
The Verdict: Seriously, how great would it be to like Robert De Niro again? It’s been such a lot of Stardust and Meet the Parents and Analyze This (and, of course, That). And we’re really not that sure about Righteous Kill, where he and Al Pacino seem to be doing some kind of command-performance, “Simon and Garfunkel in Central Park” thing. But What Just Happened?, directed by Barry Levinson and based on producer Art Linson’s book about his life as a Hollywood producer, looks like it might be … well, at least a big step up from Meet the Fockers. Though the film didn’t sell at Sundance and seems to already have the word “troubled” attached to it, the idea of De Niro chasing around a wackadoo, ZZ Top–bearded Bruce Willis (Willis’s portrayal of himself is allegedly based on an incident involving Alec Baldwin) isn’t without its charms. There are a lot of reliable supporting types involved, including Stanley Tucci, Catherine Keener, and John Turturro, so even if it is troubled, we sort of want to see it. But not as much as we’d like to see Alec Baldwin and Bruce Willis get in a slap fight. —Linda Holmes