Lady in the Water (2006) Poster

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Not a great movie, but certainly not as bad as you've heard
ghostofmrpalmer19 June 2008
To start off with, I actually liked this movie, and at first I couldn't understand why some many people hated, but upon reflection i can see what some people reacted to so harshly.

One thing I liked about the film is the simple story, or more accurately, the atmosphere. M. Night has always been better at creating a mood than fleshing out a story, but the premise of Lady in the Water works for me: It about people reacting to a fairy tale happening in real life. This concept probably put a lot of people off, the fact of the matter is this concept hasn't been used a lot (but it has been done before, i.e. Peter Weir's "The Last Wave", a deeper and more philosophical film), and people aren't used to it. Like I said, I liked it, but most of my friends thought it was stupid.

The main thing that people hated was M. Night's own acting in the film, and on this I agree. He was without a doubt the worst thing in the film. It was a disgusting example of self-indulgence and self-importance, and more than that, he's just a terrible actor and he should stop.

The one thing that I really had a hard time stomaching was the extended sequences with the party band, Silvertide. They were so awful I wanted to walk out of the movie. Picture a blonde version of The Black Crows with even less talent ripping through and f*(^king up a version of Dylan's "Maggie's farm".

Those few things aside, the rest of the cast was great, I thought the story was simple and decent enough, the "film critic" part with Bob Balaban was funny, but M. Night was asking for it with that one, and the movie as a whole was entertaining.

M. Night started out as the new golden boy of Hollywood with "The Sixth Sense", but many have felt he's lost his touch. The truth is he hasn't lost his touch, he just hasn't grown as a director. With "The 6th Sense", "Unbreakable", "Signs", "The Village", and now "The Happening", he keep tilling the same field. it's getting old. "The 6th Sense" was great, mostly because it was fresh, "Unbreakable" was entertaining for me at least due to the comic book references, but "Signs", "The Happening", and especially "The Village" were just plain terrible. "Lady In The Water" was a nice diversion from his formula, but it's getting tired. Perhaps M. Night would benefit from directing a script written by someone else, and not built around some moronic "twist" at the end, and most definitely not acting in it.
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I know I am in the minority here, but I enjoyed it
the_scandal_cha22 July 2006
First off, I can see why this film is going to be a box-office flop and why critics and audiences alike will not like it. I, who usually disagrees with most audiences, at least, thoroughly enjoyed this film. The storyline itself is rather ridiculous, I must say. Some girl shows up in a pool? She's a what-a narf? I went into the movie thinking I would hate it, but I came out knowing that I had seen a work of art. That's right. It was art.

First of all, it's a good family film, with enough tense moments to keep you watching, and enough laugh-out-loud moments to calm you down. It was refreshing for once to see a film with good, clean humour. The dialogue was not necessarily hilarious, but the actors, especially Paul Giamatti (Cleveland) delivered the lines extremely well.

The acting was tremendously well done also. Paul Giamatti is always fantastic, and while Bryce Dallas Howard seemed to act in the same manner as she did in The Village, she was still convincing. The ensemble cast worked well together. Some might bash M. Night for casting himself in a not-so-cameo role, but he proved that he can actually act! No, his performance will not win him an Oscar, nor should it, but I think there is definite talent there. I hope to see him in bigger roles, in films not his own.

The plot had many twists, maybe too many, but no matter. I kept trying to guess what was going to happen, but it I was always wrong. It was quite interesting.

What most made this film a work of art was the directing. M. Night has a rare talent that will go completely under the radar for this film because no one will see it. The camera angles were inventive-that's right, inventive. I may be one of the few who actually cares about camera angles and how a scene looks, but it looked great. The final product was polished.

I truly believe this film is M. Night's best work. He made the story up himself, wrote a screenplay that made us laugh, smile, cringe, and jump just a little, and directed a great ensemble cast including himself. Quite a feat.

So before everyone starts ranting about how stupid the storyline is or how "so-not-scary" the film is, just appreciate the uniqueness of the film, and remember what makes this film good. Forget the crazy story. It's everything else!
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Lady In The Water - A True Bedtime Story
banksj17 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Bottom line: Phili must be a crazy place to live.

I walk into every M. Night film knowing, good or bad, I am going to see a picture that is imaginative, original, and full of hope. This is one of very few writer/directors who actually strive to bring something new to the cinema on each different outing.

So, how was the film? Good. Dare I say, great? If you like his films, this one will definitely hit you deep. You'll put it at the top of your "M. Night List", and be glad to have it in your DVD collection later this year.

First, the acting. We all know Night has a habit of picking actors from the same pool. People he knows, trusts, and has worked with before. Willis has helmed two of his films, while Joaquin another two. This will be Bryce Dallas Howards second as well. We are used to Night writing his lead characters as more of a shadow of a man that once was. A tragic figure; this is no different in "Lady In The Water".

Giamatti plays Heep very, very well. But, because of Giamatti's inclusion into Nights' world, we see things much lighter. Willis, Gibson, and Phoenix had a habit of turning everything dark and dreary. And while Giamatti is still a tragic figure, he is eager to believe and more than willing to take the word of a half naked girl in his home. I, personally, believe that he is the greatest actor Night has worked with. And the result? A much lighter film. Thank God.

This is a fantasy. Not a horror, not a film with a twist (spoiler: there is none), which is good, because a twist would have put Night into an early grave. As a fantasy, a bed time story, Night treats us like children. Characters speak their inner dialogues, creatures with interesting names plague us at every turn, and the residents of this apartment complex are as interesting and comic as they are important.

There is still the important Night message: Purpose. We all have one. We all are meant to be somebody. Now, all we have to do is figure that out.

Even the intro reads like a children's' book; illustrations dance about in order to create a younger element to this tale.

The plot is simple. Nymphs, beasts, guilds, healers, etc. Almost like a role-playing video game in a sense.

The music and cinematography? Night kept his all-star team, and the project was helmed and sculpted beautifully.

The faults? I dare say Night could have done with less characters. They all seemed important, but it crowded the screen, and left us with a question: Is this that persons' only purpose? That's sad.

But, have fun with this film. It's a treat, as rare as Nights' films are.

Night brings a world of reality into a world of dreams, and the saddest point of the film, was when we had to wake up.
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One bizarre evening
mstomaso2 August 2006
I can't rate this film.

When I go to see a Shyamalan film, I expect to be entertained and stimulated, but I never know exactly how this will be accomplished. Shyamalan's films use ambiguity aesthetically and he draws his audience through the seduction of interpretive participation. Of all of his films, perhaps Lady in the Water does this most profoundly. Although I understood the entire film - the plot, the themes, the method - I walked away asking "what the hell did I just see?" It's easy enough to categorize the film. Lady in the Water is an absurdist comedy. But it makes you ask yourself why you are laughing. With Shyamalan's talent as it is, it is impossible for me to believe that any aspect of the humor of this film was unintentional. Yet the other side of LITW is dark fantasy, in the tradition of Michael Cohn's Snow White.

With a cast David Lynch would have been happy with, Shyamalan tells a fable from East Asia as it is experienced by a superintendent (Giamatti) at an apartment complex full of mundanely odd characters. A strange and beautiful young woman (Howard) has emerged from the complex's pool, apparently seeking contact with the surface world so she can find folkloric archetypes who can protect her from the evil creatures that hunt her and return her to her world beneath the waves.

Giamatti, Howard, and Shyamalan himself are all very entertaining. Howard - a very unusual looking and uniquely pretty woman - is shot so beautifully that it is very difficult to take your eyes off of her. M. Night's performance is so bizarre, it is hard to tell whether or not he is acting.

LITW is definitely the strangest film I have seen from Shyamalan. I have been up and down with him since the beginning of his career, enjoying his early films, very much disliking Signs, and being impressed with the Village. I believe that with the Village and LITW, M. Night is establishing a new and unique direction for himself. And if he keeps going this way, I will gladly follow.
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The audacity of the man
wozza1026 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
M Night Shyamalaan is an excellent film-maker. OK, the twist in The Village was obvious after minutes, but it was a film that did not deserve some of the lashings it received. But 'Lady In The Water' is a different story. It is a film that fails in everything it's trying to be.

Primarily it's trying to be a family, fantasy adventure movie and I cannot imagine what kind of child (the primary audience for this genre) is not going to be bored out of their mind from the off. The reason it fails is Night and Night alone. Again he has made a slow burning dialogue heavy movie set completely in "reality". Where this film should be bright, lively, fun, exciting, magical it is instead dull (this is the worst work Chris Doyle's done), lifeless, turgid, bland and, dare I say, boring. The world of the movie is inappropriate for the genre it's living in.

The reason that this style doesn't work is that the whole point of the movie is that's it's a fantastical bedtime story, yet it's devoid of anything fantastical. This film should be set in a world like ours, but not ours. Night - not everything in your imagination can happen in Philadelphia! This movie also feels like it's only ever gone thru two drafts. First draft was a straight up bedtime story which Night has read back and realised "man, this doesn't work... at all. It's terrible" so he's written in a whole layer of character (allegedly... horrifically inaccurate caricature's more accurate) and dialogue who are there solely to justify how bad some things are. sadly he doesn't seem to have read draft 2 to realise that the layers justifying how rubbish everything is are even worsely executed meaning the script is two layers of $h1t on top of each other.

And then you have the complete audacity of the man in casting himself as the man who will (essentially) write the second bible. This would be ego gone insane if he was actually any good, but his performance is the one in the movie that really isn't anywhere near what it needs to be. There's a moment when the character finds out what his fate will be, a scene which an actor of quality would have been able to wrench your heart with, but a moment where Night actually looks like he's realised the film he's made could destroy his career (although I hope not)! Man, I could go on and on from the backstory being explained to you chunk at a time for no reason other than to flesh out the idea beyond what it ever deserved in such a way that it feels like Night's rewriting the rules of his own film as he goes because he's never had any solid idea of what the rules are at the start to the film critic who's only film criticism is "it sucked" which instantly destroys the attempt to set him up as an arrogant highbrow critic (he also gets possibly the worst cinematic death ever) to how blatantly obvious the red herrings are.

I genuinely cannot see what anyone can see positively about this movie (as a whole), unless they are so sure Night's a genius they cannot see beyond the name to the film that's actually there.
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Pedantic, contrived exercise in tedium and boredom
strikefire8324 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
As someone who loved The Sixth Sense and Signs, and who liked Unbreakable, I've got to say it's disappointing where Shyamalan seems to be taking his movies.

Lady in the Water has none of those attributes. For one thing, it's boring, something none of his other movies were. Here we have a sloppily unstructured mess of a film filled to the brim with incoherent bedtime story "mythology" that changes from one minute to the next, so even if you try and follow the world of the story your efforts will only be met with frustration. The film's flaws are many, and as others have and will point them out with much more dexterity than me, I'll simply list the films greatest foibles.

1) Shyamalan casts HIMSELF as a John the Baptist character who will inspire "a great leader who will change everything" from a hastily constructed presumable political treatise entitled, of all things, The Cookbook. Give me a break! As someone who styles himself as a modern day Hitchcock, M. Night should take a page from that man's book and continue to play cameo roles, not central ones.

2) His supporting characters are a mish-mash of ethnic and cultural stereotypes. The "Asian" student who attends university but cannot string together a coherent English sentence. Of course the otherworldly "mythology" is the remnant of some vaguely Eastern legend based on truth. The old Jewish woman is tackily dressed and her husband is always in the bathroom. Please.

3) The film/movie critic is one of the ONLY interesting and rounded characters, and Shyamalan kills him off as he rattles off trite contrivances. This character's appearance seems like a defensive self-conscious way to preempt the critical panning of this film. When a writer forces one of his characters to go on the defensive in dialogue, you know something has got to be wrong with a movie.

4) Shyamalan continues his now hackneyed convention of having a protagonist who's suffered tremendous loss in the form of familial death. Enough Already. Paul G is a great actor, the unnecessary back story about a dead family and a lost medical practice trite and out of place.

The list goes on and on, but suffice it to say this movie is a waste of celluloid, or hard drive space if you'd prefer. Avoid like plague.
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It's all in the ending.
CMUltra22 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The ending is the crucial part of any movie. And, since M. Night Shyamalan has established the ending as the high point of his films, I was particularly watching the final moments here. Disappointingly, Shyamalan delivers a few very weak, very easy to spot "twists" tied up in a Hollywood Happy Ending™.

I've nothing against happy endings but, with Shyamalan, I expect the ending, whatever type it may be, to have quite a punch. The rest of the movie has the quality we've come to expect from Shyamalan. Tight direction, angles and shots that not only look good but also become part of the storytelling, and a layered script all add up to a fun and very interesting ride. Unfortunately the ride runs out of gas rather than coming to a final destination.

Shyamalan takes a good stab at the fantasy genre here and doesn't waste any time establishing belief amongst the characters. They all quickly accept and then begin to act upon the proposition that Story is a real life fairy-tale creature, come to benefit them and mankind as a whole. Their belief seems too abrupt but it's clear that Shyamalan wanted to dive right into the story. I would have liked just a little more cynicism from the humans though. If he had set the story in the past their immediate acceptance may have been more plausible. But in current day Philadelphia? I just don't see that many folks accepting a fantasy being at face value.

The writing is a good bit more humorous than his past scripts. There are a good many chuckles and even a few laugh out loud moments. Giamatti is in a role tailor made for him and he carries it with no problems. Howard shows a suitable sense of wonder and innocence as Story. The rest of the cast, a fairly large group of characters, are solid as well. Shyamalan writes himself into his largest role to date and does quite well.

Overall I can't say it's a bad movie. The Shyamalan quality alone puts this above most of the competition. However, he has set himself a pretty high standard with his earlier films and this one falls short.
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A turkey
NHe31 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this at a screening among people who work in the film industry. Many audience members were laughing at the muddled self-indulgent mess on the screen. And no wonder. Myself, I was mostly moaning, wishing I had sat closer to an aisle or an exit. And I actually went into this film expecting to like it......The script is incomprehensible and illogical. I realize this is "meant" to be a fable, but it's mostly the director --- who mugs his way through a key role in his own film, getting his own good side most of the time --- who's really out to lecture us. In passing, we get a middle class housing project in "Philadelphia" which seems to be situated with suburbs on one side and a national wildlife preserve on the other. We meet a mythical beast which looks like a crocadoggy, which appears at a building wide party but no one notices. Paul Giammati, who wears glasses in the film, manages what seems to be a hyper-athletic underwater dive without glasses or goggles that would have taxed an experience scuba diver. A film critic gets torn apart by the monster in a building corridor but no one notices (is M-Night suggesting something here?) and there is a really nasty racial sterotype of an Asian girl, a "college student," who speaks we-all-sound-same funny-rice-girl English. Uh, why funny accent for Asian girl, Mr. Filmmaker, when Indian-American film director-actor talk so good? Funny accent no essential to plot, so why include, hey? And, Yo, Shammy, that Eagle at the end? A Philadelphia Eagle? I don't see Dead People here, but I'm starting to see a writer/director who has shot his creative wad.
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Don't just see it looking for a twist
ava7125 July 2006
After the sixth sense people have been expecting M. Night to shock and amaze them time after time. This is of course impossible. He made signs and the village which had their twists but left the audience with more of an "oh yeah" feeling. More importantly though his movies have become deeper in their actual message, his newest film is no different. if all you want is the amazement of a twist your in for a disappointment. Instead look at this movie for the message of hope it leaves you with, or the humor that abounds, the great acting involved, or even the amazing visual style and suspense. but don't just sit in the theater waiting to be surprised, your just wasting your time and missing the point of a really good movie.
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An unexpected fairy's tale.
glen-8821 July 2006
I think the thing about this movie is that people may go in expecting it to be a weird horror/supernatural thriller. While it does have supernatural elements, its much more of, well, I guess a fairy tale. It's got some great scares but overall it will be enjoyed more if you know ahead of time your not going to be sitting on the edge of your seat.

The theme of "finding your purpose" definitely is poignant in this day and age, I love all the self reflexive humor as far as story structure goes too.

SFX were decent, not awe inspiring but good for what was required. The film is really about the characters though and their arcs. I'd say the film is much more for the introspective crowd than the hardcore comic kids who want plenty of screams.
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M. Night Shyamalan makes his "8 1/2"
medalforbenny51522 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It's hard being M. Night Shyamalan. Year after year, his works of uncompromised genius are poorly received by theatergoers and film critics alike. Even Disney didn't want to make his latest film, Lady in the Water, fearing that it was poorly written, featured too large a role for the writer/director, and contained an embarrassingly self-indulgent attack at his detractors, the crrritics. And as much as I hate to agree with Disney, they were absolutely right.

The story, as convoluted as you've come to expect from the man, is not the main problem here. Sure, it's chock-full of narfs, tarturic, and poorly drawn stereotypes, but the larger issue for me was the cringe-inducing self-indulgence that runs rampant throughout the film. For instance, Shyamalan plays the role of an author, misunderstood in his time, who will one day influence a boy destined to become the president of the United States. Self-fulfilling prophecies, anyone? His acting is embarrassing and unintentionally hilarious in turns, and his reactions to pivotal plot points had me longing for the brief, campy cameos of years past.

While I can understand M. Night's desire to respond to the unenlightened critics that failed to see the staggering brilliance of his previous works, one has to question the response itself. Shyamalan is multitasking here, attempting to transport his audience through the magical realism of his self-proclaimed "bedtime story" while simultaneously denouncing his critics for trashing the gospel of M. Night. In the end, we're left with a fairy tale too aware of itself to fully envelop us and a pseudo-manifesto too delusional and self-important to inspire us in any way. In the end, Shyamalan made a film that can really only be enjoyed by himself. It's just a shame that the likes of Paul Giamatti, Bob Balaban, and Freddy Rodriguez have to go down with the Good Ship Shyamalan.
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Dear Mr. M. Knight, stick to the Amex commercials...
spaektor23 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
he should be put in director jail and the key thrown away for many reasons, not the least of which is how much screen time he gave himself. directors giving themselves bit parts is a fun game, great for trivia and whatnot, but please, don't go The Way of Quentin.

i'm of Korean heritage, and the supposed myth upon which this plot is based comes entirely from the memories of a Korean-American woman, and translated by her Americanized daughter with a bad, bad accent. i suppose m. knight thought giving her wild hairstyles would be enough to counter the "good Asian girl" stereotype. i wondered where the decision to use the Korean culture came from. maybe he just figured he needed some mysticism, and dipped into whatever culture was handy at the moment. hey, m. knight -- words like "scrunt" and "narf" don't translate phonetically into English; they'd each have three syllables. being a minority yourself, i thought you'd be more sensitive to details like this.

bad stereotypes aside, the premise of a ghostly, Oppie-like Waterworld reject living in the community pool trying to save mankind is retarded. and hey, if she can see the future, what the hell is she crying about? what's weirder than that though, is how readily the building tenants accept all this nonsense, and how much they try to help instead of calling the Loony Police on Giamatti and Howard's characters. having characters that don't question reality alienates the audience, those of us that pay egregious sums of money for good entertainment. that's why Toni Collette's character was awesome in The Sixth Sense: she was freaked out that her son might be insane. so when Paul Giamatti wakes up in his bed and finds what appears to be a pre-pubescent, half-naked teen staring at him, he should freak out and say, "What the f*** are you doing here and who the f*** are you??!", not "Okay, you can stay a while and why aren't I stuttering?" unbelievable characters, boring and unlikely dialogue, highly questionable mythologies of supposedly Asian origin, and the Standard M. Knight Whirlwind of Act Three Revelations To Wrap Up This Cockamamie Plot, are all reasons why you should not see this movie.

so M., please, go directly to Director Jail and turn yourself in. say hello to Antoine Fuqua and Justin Lin for me. maybe if you don't shiv anyone they'll let you do another Amex spot.
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It's being nominated as Worst Film of 2006?!?!?!
tenalto23 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
After hearing that Lady in the Water is being nominated for Worst Film of 2005, I just wanted to voice how much I enjoyed the movie. It hasn't deserved the shafting it's getting.

Lady in the Water has a magical feel to it. It's a bedtime story, put on film. Like a fairy tale. There's good guys, bad guys, danger, and mystic. What's not to love? It's not like his other films, though I think each one has been kinda different anyway. Unbreakable, which I didn't like at all the first time I saw it, I actually enjoyed the second time through. There was something about the way in which he put the Willis character against the Jackson character. It was like.. watching a comic book. And while it wasn't the glorified sorta.. Superman/Batman sorta.. bright colours.. big powers.. that you get from lots of comics.. it was subtle, and watching it again, I actually thought really fascinating.

Anyway.. Sixth Sense was another one that you almost enjoy more the second time through. You watch it, this time knowing the twist, and notice that Bruce Willis, after he gets shot, only ever talks to the Osmund character. You don't notice that the first time.

And I just loved the Village. Flat out.

I think what makes his films so enjoyable to me are the subtle things. Things you might not catch til the second time through. But I loved Lady in the Water, the first time through. Just as I did the Village. It was an awesome story. Sweet, engaging, well acted, and just a little surreal. But hey, if you have totally forgotten what it was like to be a kid and enjoy a story, then yea, you might not like it. :)
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blashco22 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Hey, I just saw the movie titled in the subject, here is my review.

The SIxth Sense marked the debut of M. Night's fame and popularity. The atmosphere and vibe that he created, along with a clever plot and a twist ending made movie-goers everywhere realize the importance of Shyamalan. He, to some extent, created a cult following.

Now, four movies later, many of his fans are wondering when he will reveal a movie as amazing as The Sixth Sense. With the OK-at-best movie Unbreakable, people were wondering if he was just a one-hit-wonder director. Then, with Signs, there was some hope that he would make a comeback.

But, then he released The Village. After he lost thousands of fans due to that horrendous movie, he attempts at making another good movie. He most certainly fails.

The movie places a stuttering man who lost his entire family in an Apartment complex. He, as the super, notices someone swimming late at night. This is the Lady from the title.

You see, M. Night created an entire "Bed Time Story" about how land people used to coexist with the people of the "Blue World" (the ocean). These people speak English. But Land people got greedy and started fighting. But the Blue World people stayed pure, like water, as the Super points out.

To help out the greedy people, huge birds that no land person has ever seen flies them to the land, and they must confront a "Chosen One" (no really, that is how the put it) and show them the way. The way the chosen one is directed will end up helping the land people as a whole.

The Chosen One is, of course, M. Night himself. He can write, direct, produce and now act. He must be the chosen one.

Anyways, there are wolves that aren't wolves, but are Scants or something. Their fur is grass and they are green. So that is why no person has seen them. These Scants attack people from the Blue World, but not the land. But there are rules.

The night that the Snarf (lady of the blue world, The main Lady) returns to the blue world, the cannot attack them. If they do, these monkeys that aren't monkeys will kill them. There are three. And they are also made out of grass.

But normal Scants wont attack Snarfs unless they are Rogue Scants. And those usually wont do it either, unless the Snarf is a Madame Snarf. And she is.

So now the protagonist, Cleveland must find people to help him.

You see, there are some normal people that help the Snarfs. Among the people are the Healer, the Guardian, the Guild and the Interpreter. These people are the only people who can see the Snarf leave. No one else can... or else it wont work or something.

And the moral is that no one knows who they are. I'm serious.

Anyways, the main bulk of the movie is Cleveland looking for people who can help, and being wrong a lot. And then he keeps stuttering. And it is annoying.

This is definitely M. Night's worst directed movie. Many of the shots are out of focus and hurt your eyes. And then there were the random shots, like when it showed the sign of The Cove while people were dying. And there were a lot of unnecessary close ups.

The writing is by far the worst in any movie. The Interpreter figures out what to do by looking at cereal boxes. I am not kidding. It hurt me inside when it happened.

The acting was decent by many, but some of the people should not be actors. M. Night was pretty good, but his lines were kept at a minimum.

Despite the absurdity of the Bed Time Story, every single person Cleveland told it to believed it immediately. And that is about 15 people. Just imagine someone telling you that a human that looks like everyone else... that doesn't even have gills, lives in the water. Nope, not happening.

The only good thing I could find was the music... and only the last song. A few of the other songs were out of place and unnecessary. But the song during the climax was very well composed.

M. Night should, in my opinion, stop directing and maybe pick up a different hobby. Like not directing. Or writing.

Overview: This movie is in my top 5 worst movies I have ever seen. I laughed at how absurd the story was, but never laughed at the so-called 'funny parts.' Do not see this movie unless you like pain.

Final grade: 3/1000
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A story about Stories.
theblackfedora23 July 2006
The lest said about the plot of the film the better. Not because it's bad because it's an imaginative one, and you should really go in having no idea what you're in store for. That's part of the point of the movie.

The introduction of this movie is done in cave drawings. It's a fitting opening and a good clue that this movie is about stories. No, not modern film, which many critics and audiences today think is about pushing boundaries and constantly doing something 'new'. This movie is about the good old fashioned story. The reason why our ancient ancestors sat around fires and told them, and their ability to inspire and save souls.

There isn't anything truly new about it (it has roots in the classic fairy tales and epic poems of antiquity), other than the fact that it dares to be a great film made in the mondern era in spite of being littered with elements of the now despised classical story (which apparently isn't good enough for modern film makers anymore).

The thing about these classic stories and the one that Shaymalan is attempting to tell is that they have a purpose, and strive to inspire society and humanity as a whole. They lead people to do great things, and make us all feel better in the end, where most modern 'stories' feel more like egotistical attempts of "artists" to make themselves feel great and leave us in awe of their great greatness.

Christopher Doyle lends some excellent shots to this film, which some how manage to make a scene of an every day loser frigthenedly warding off a were-wolf type monster with a pool skimmer seem exceptionally epic. At the same time it helps the story (for me at least) pull those same strings that great stories like Gilgamesh, and the Aeneid pull.

I saw this film the day it opened and I was delighted. I came home, as is my habit, and read all the reviews. A good section of this movie is directed at attacking assanine, jaded, film critics who think their opinions are authoratitive (it depicts them as being the ruiners of the classic story), and so, all of the assanine, jaded, and authoratative film critics seem to have panned it.

No one seemed really sure what the movie was about, but were all quick to pan M. Night as being arrogant for casting himself in the role of a writer destined to change the world. They, ironically, claim that he was being arrogant, completing unable to fathom that their own presumptions about why he cast himself in that role could in fact be a good deal more arrogant...

I'll have to admit that I've been the jaded film critic before, but one I came out of this one I remembered why I've always loved stories, and why they don't' always have to be new and fit into some silly sense of "reality".
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Whether your reaction is confusion, anger, or awe, this film cannot be easily ignored.
Pasafist21 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Has M. Knight Shyamalan lost his mind? Is he a mad genius or just loopy? Has he created a masterpiece or a mess? These are the questions I'm still grappling with after watching THE LADY IN THE WATER. This is most interestingly beautiful, confusing, and downright strange films I've have ever seen. Wow, trying to come up with words to explain what's going on in my mind after watching this film is impossible. I'm not sure if I've seen the future of the cinema or the end of a popular director's career. But I do know that THE LADY IN THE WATER cannot be ignored.

I think walking into this film, I had many preconceived notions. I know what an M. Knight Shyamalan film is, or at least what it's supposed to be. But THE LADY IN THE WATER challenges every one of those notions. There's no surprise ending, there are very few scares, and the film feels sloppy, half-hearted, overly confusing, and I understand why most will dismiss it. This is a movie that can't quite be nailed down and since the film bucks any and all convention. It's easy to find the conventional flaws everywhere.

The acting is disjointed, the plot is a mess, the dialogue is overly simple, the story is far too complicated and it all combines into something that seems pieced together on the fly. It feels almost as if Shyamalan has drawn a line in the sand. This line is all logic. This line is how far he expects us to go, and then out of nowhere the line suddenly falls apart. Shyamalan pushes us so past the line, it's easy to just give up. I think the line comes at a different point for each of us. The line disappeared to me when the little boy begins to read cereal boxes. It is so weird, so out of left field. This was at that point in which I had to decide if I should give up any semblance of logic and just give in to the sheer absurdity of it, or whether I should give up and pan it. Where that lines falls with you, may decide if you have a positive reaction to the film or not.

The plot is simple, or maybe not. A "Narf" named Story (Bryce Dallas Howard) shows up in a pool at The Cove, and apartment community in Philadelphia. What's a "Narf?" Well it's kind of like a mermaid with human feet, or maybe more like an angel or a muse that lives underwater, both would be appropriate. Anyway Story is rescued by The Cove's resident superintendent Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti). Story is looking for a writer who's written work will cause a positive change in the world forever. On that trail Cleveland must protect Story from an evil creature bent on destroying her.

But what is this movie exactly? It is a bedtime story come to life. It's a fanciful yarn, a child's story and a wild imagination run amok. Like how MULLHOLLAND DRIVE was dream realized on film, THE LADY IN THE WATER is a campfire tale, it's not a terribly cohesive, and demands that the audience put the pieces together. I liken it to the weird tales I created with my action figures as a kid, or a nonsense story that a first grader may try to write. It's not designed to be pulled apart, just experienced at that moment. None of the pieces quite fit, a lot of times if feels as if the film is grasping for straws. Sensing that it's lost most of the audience it gives into its oddness, and it revels in it. But is that by design?

The other side of the coin is that this is a badly made movie. It's the wild ranting of an over zealous personality. The first credit you see as the film comes to a close is "Written, Produced, and Directed by M. Knight Shyamalan" and since he's been so successful maybe this film is an example of what happens when you allow a director too much room, and no editorial comment from the studio. Maybe this is a self-indulgent vanity piece, a sloppy mess of a movie that would have been easily dismissed had it not been created by Shyamalan himself.

Honestly, I don't know where I fall. I think I want to see the movie again. But I like the notion that this could be a step in the right direction for film as a whole. That Shayamalan has crafted a film that way ahead of its time. I'd hate to realize that there is nothing there because it would rob that odd sense of madcap joy I experienced with the film.

THE LADY IN THE WATER is the perfect remedy for what's wrong in Hollywood. Even if you hate every single moment of it, it encourages strong reactions. Whether that reaction is confusion, anger, or awe, this film cannot be easily ignored. So at this moment I think I will argue that THE LADY IN THE WATER is a brilliant film. That Shyamalan will get ribbed for it now, but will later be rewarded with a strong cult following. It's easily the best film I've seen all year.
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Are you kidding me????????
oroscos200322 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Did everyone see the same movie I did????? I even had FREE passes and I'm so ticked about wasting them on this movie.

Maybe it was anywhere from the wolf dog made out of grass to the person who is the "writer" or "vessel" who's story titled the Cookbook is going to make a difference in mankind after meeting a lady (the sea nymph) who apparently got plopped into a apartment complex's swimming pool and now has to wait for an eagle to pick her up. But wait! She needs help from the maintenance guy and a 11 yr old boy who can guide her by finding the other crazy tenants she needs by reading boxes of cereal such as Fruity Pebbles. Let's especially not forget the guy who lifts weights only to buff out one arm. He too is special! I'm sorry but I'm just missing the "Oscar" material feeling from this movie. UGH! I knew I should have went to go see Monster House....Or really I could have even watched paint dry and I would have got more out of that. UGH!!!!!!!
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One of Night's Most Entertaining Films
Xideric18 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I've seen every other M. Night movie and this is by far one of his most entertaining. I think I happen to be on the flip side of most everyone else when it comes to all his flicks.

I enjoyed Unbreakable and Signs quite a bit, I thought both were excellent, I thought Sixth Sense was pretty intense and I liked it just a bit less than the other two, and Village is on the bottom of my list as I did enjoy it, but it was his most predictable work to date. LITW would fit in on par with Signs, as the more I think about this movie, the more I reflect upon it, the more I realize how much I love it.

The simple idea of having an apartment complex come together as a whole to attempt to rescue something most of them would never believe in is, in my mind, refreshing. Usually, all these types of characters would never believe such a thing, but we know how M. Night feels about people trying to figure out his characters. ;) Anyway, the mood of the film was perfect, I enjoyed every single character in the movie, it was as if I could have watched a separate film about the lives of the other characters and been enthralled in those movies, they all had such a past to them.

The story, I'll admit, did seem a bit forced, it kind of went from a slow build up to everything and suddenly we're being chases by creatures out of no where, but after that it maintains a steady pace and keep you hooked till the end.

Finally, M. Night did something wonderful with his film critic character, and I can not wait for anyone to see how he does this, but it's sure to irritate, anger, and upset a handful of critics who think they are Gods. :p
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carl_cx21 July 2006
I have been a fan of M. Night, ever since the first film I saw of his, SIGNS. After that, I was a HUGE fan...I had to see the others. While SIGNS had always been my favorite, I love how he blended moving stories, with thriller aspects. After the critics bashed the VILLAGE (which I found to be a very well made movie) I wondered if he could recover or not. And here is is answer.

This movie, much like the other ones, is a "theme" movie, that goes deeper than nymphs, ghosts, or creatures in the woods outside. This movie explores "Purpose", a theme we don't hear from much from movies. Paul Giamatti is fantastic and real in this movie, and that's why he is one of my fav actors. He could actually nab a Oscar nomination for this movie. He is INCREDIBLE.

Bryce Dallas Howard is stunning...and while I think she was robbed last year at the Oscars for Village, I think this year, she will miss out on the award. She didn't stand out, because there was not as much depth to her character as their was for Paul.

Shyamalan actually performed a huge part in the movie, and a very moving part. The story was well crafted...and I actually think this may have been Night's most original and daunting task of a story he has written yet. I also think this is one of his best. It's not scary. It's moving. And actually has some comedy in it, which he missed in some of his other movies. In how many thrillers do you see a guy who performs an experiment, and only works out one side of his body, so it becomes 4" more muscular than the other. I love how he brought some many diverse people together: a critic who sees no originality in the world, a crossword puzzle genius, a stumped writer and his comedic sister, an old woman who has a thing with animals, and a man locked away in his solitude. The way they come together is incredible.

One of the best parts of the movie is the music. BY FAR, the BEST music in any of Shyamalan's movies. James Newton Howard has created a masterpiece soundtrack, that's sweeping chorus of angelic voices and swelling violins and cellos will leave you awestruck. And don't believe Shyamalan's lies about there being "no twist". there's about 10 twists...the entire movie will keep you guessing until the very end, which is to say the least, perfect.

People will tell you that the movie isn't worth 6 bucks, I'm sure, because it's not scary. They'll say that your getting gypped. I say you're not getting gypped. I'll say that Night is the one getting gypped. This movie is worth a lot more than 6 bucks.
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A good little original movie
TrueHorror2918 July 2006
This movie will surely earn its detractors due to its slow story telling. Todays audiences become bored the second something does not explode or die. This film isn't going to be a broad hit but instead it feels like a curious little independent film with big studio backing. Its more so a tale of finding ones purpose and will to live on as opposed to the fairy tale story that is ultimately its background. A nice change of pace from the stuff like "Little Man" and "Mission Impossible III". Not all movies are going to be liked by everyone, but given the chance Lady in the Water will find its following and make them feel a little bit better after seeing it.
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Fantastic, Original, brilliant and captivating!!
Robert_duder31 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It is so very sad that in a day and age when Hollywood churns out films that critics claim as garbage, and it's the same old recycled, seen before trash that something like this isn't hailed by critics and top of the box office for fans. M. Night Shyamalan's brilliant tale is one of his best but the man has done some brilliant work up till now. It's not secret that Shyamalan seems to be an acquired taste. He has almost a cult following it seems of people that absolutely adore his brilliance. I say he has completely outdone himself with Lady In The Water. Not only has he created this brilliant story with an ensemble cast of mysterious and interesting characters but he created an entire fairy tale that this story bases itself around. This is completely unique and original inside and out and that is something to be proud of. On top of that it is so watchable, captivating and interesting. I sincerely hope that none of the bad reviews brings Shyamalan down because he has outdone himself this time and gave me an incredible experience at the theater.

Paul Giamatti takes the lead role as classically haunted and brilliantly melancholy Cleveland Heep. This is a typical Shyamalan character and one of his absolute best going straight up there with Bruce Willis' Dr. Malcolm Crowe, Samuel L. Jackson's Mr. Glass and Mel Gibson's Graham Hess, all absolutely classic characters in cinema and Giamatti's Heep belongs there 100%. Giamatti outdoes himself and gives another Oscar worthy performance in my opinion. Heep makes a great hero because he is not. He's the average guy, stuck in a rut, sad, and we know something has caused his melancholy but it unfolds slowly. He is given reason to come alive again with the discovery of a stranger who saves his life. Bryce Dallas Howard plays the mysterious Story. A water Fairy who must accomplish an important deed to the future of mankind and the small apartment complex is the link to this deed. I admit I wasn't crazy about Howard's performance in The Village but she fits this role perfectly. She is mysterious, disturbed, pale, and perfectly suited for this. She still wasn't my favorite character in the film but she does well in the role. One of the most fantastic elements of Lady In The Water is this incredible ensemble cast including none other than Shyamalan himself in an intriguing and important role. Jeffrey Wright, Bob Balaban, Sarita Choudhury, Cindy Cheung, Freddy Rodríguez, Bill Irwin, Mary Beth Hurt, and Noah Gray-Cabey all deserve mention as they play variations of important parts in the story. I must single out Cindy Cheung who is terrific as the punk rocker student who seems to be quite close to Heep. I think her boisterous "Goodbye Mr. Heep" will become a classic in my books. Also Bob Balaban as the rather sour movie critic Mr. Farber and if this was Shyamalan's dig at his rather harsh critics it was hilariously done!! Balaban's character is subtle but meets his end is a rather sarcastic and clever demise poking fun at the movie plot and critics in general. Shyamalan himself plays a very, very good role as the important Vick who has a bigger purpose in life that is dropped on him.

The film unravels at break neck speed and everything is discovered and unraveled and carefully dealt with all coming back to this fascinating and original fairy tale that Shyamalan has created. The creature stalking the Water fairy from the grass is terrifying and definitely makes the suspense first rate. One of the most amazing things about this film is that this mind binding, imaginative story all takes place in one tiny area. Never once does this film leave the apartment complex. For the most part the bulk of the film takes place at the pool side and yet you barely notice because Shyamalan makes the story so incredibly interesting. As far as I'm concerned if this wasn't already the case this film puts the nail in Shyamalan being one of the most talented writers and directors in Hollywood. He has such an incredibly unique style and I have loved his films since day one. Bravo for this one because it was amazing!! Everyone that loves something unique and suspenseful and interesting will love this film!! 10/10
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Shyamalan's Folly
brianwolters24 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I would first like to say that I am a huge M. Night Shyamalan fan. I didn't see Sixth Sense until it was on DVD and once I did, I was hooked. I've enjoyed each film he has directed since then, including the much maligned "The Village." I've been eagerly awaiting Lady in the Water ever since I heard about it. The teaser last winter made me even more curious and I couldn't wait for this movie with a sense of wonder. After finally viewing the movie, I have to say that M.Night has a major mess on his hands.

The movie is about an apartment maintenance man named Cleveland Heep whom seems to have a very dull life. He is good at what he does but you can't help but feel that he wants more. One night, when looking for people swimming after hours, he discovers a girl in the pool. Startled and clumsy, he falls into the pool and nearly drowns until he discovers himself back in bed with the girl in his house. She is a Narf from the Blue World who wants to return to her world and avoid the Scrunts (wolf like monster) as she tries to get back via the great eagle. She is to assist Cleveland in assembling a Guild to help her return. Little does Cleveland know that she is also there to help him overcome his grief of losing his family and quitting his job as a doctor. I have a good imagination and I was ready to see how all of this plays out. The child inside me was waiting for a payoff. I am sad to say, I never get it.

The movie is a complete, convoluted mess and a huge failure of execution. Let me begin with the characters. The supporting characters in the movie were annoying stereotypes of all kinds of ethnic backgrounds. The young Asian woman, who conveniently told the story of the Narf's by interpreting for her mother was incredibly annoying. It would seem like if the story needed more explanation, she conveniently shows up to tell us more, even being available while at a dance club. Then we have the guy who is only working out one side of his body. He serves no real purpose until the end and when he does, it is completely laughable and not worth the moment of "awe" as the movie makes it. Then we have the movie critic, who seems to be there to serve as M.Nights poke at critics at his past movies. M.Night is also playing a supporting role but because he is the director who makes clever appearances, I kept waiting for something magical to happen with his character and we don't get it. He needs to stick with Hitchcock like appearances.

The story itself unfolds slowly but when it should be getting more involving and interesting, it simply gets messier. You meet all of the characters in the film and you notice they have certain traits to their personality. Those traits are to be put to use in the Guild that Cleveland is trying to assemble. When it comes time to put it all together, you are waiting for something meaningful to happen and it just doesn't come together. Take the pool party scene. Has there been any scene in the past several years in movies as confusing and perplexing as this? They were there to protect the Lady yet stupid things happen. A girl drops her mirror who is to be watching for the Scrunt. The movie critic shows up and is given horrible dialogue. A band is to be playing inside but doesn't start on time. As a result of the confusion, the Lady is taken by the Scrunt and nearly killed. Then they realize the Guild is not correct and between a kid reading things in cereal boxes and his Dad finding clues in crosswords to shifting people and roles in Guild, I was simply confused because of the poor execution. We finally get one good scene when Cleveland has his catharsis and it was able to induce tears in audience members. But it simply comes back to the standard M.Night protagonist whom is trying to deal with personal tragedies. We saw this in Signs, The Village and again in this film. While that is a good thing to build a movie around, third time around is one too many. Finally, when things do play out as they should, we are scratching our heads and thinking "Are we too stupid to understand this film, or is the film too stupid to understand."

I've noticed many fan reviews of this film and many liked it but I do tend to think they are way to kind to allow M.Night to have a folly. Lady in the Water is his first folly and I hope he will recover and wow us with his next film.
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No sir, I didn't like it!
killanugz30 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is my first time reviewing a movie, but I thought I had too because there is no way I can get the couple hours of my life back I wasted watching this movie. To me, the rest of my party, and apparently the entire audience, there was no point to this movie. I thought the general idea was good, but there was absolutely no plot to it. The movie is a fantasy, but at least the human elements of the movie could have been realistic. First off, every character in this movie seems to believe everything they are told. IF some guy came up to me and started rambling on and on about a "narf" I would laugh in his face. Yet, he doesn't even have to work to get people to help him out with whatever he is trying to do with this woman. Then watching a group of 35-50 year olds party like they were at a fraternity keg party was priceless. Weird beasts are running around outside that are covered in grass (another thing that had me laughing) and yet nobody seems to notice. Eventually the narf is saved and the grass covered wolf thing is beaten up by grass covered monkeys and an eagle comes to get the woman. Then it just ends. You don't see where the woman goes, you don't see what happens to anyone else for that matter. I wish I could let myself believe a bed time story from somebody in order to try to save some strange woman whom we never find out why she needs to be saved. At least I stuck it out and watched it until it ended, which I can not say for half of the audience. This is the first movie I have ever been to where half of the people just got up and left because it was that bad. It made no sense to me. I have read other reviews from people who liked it and it still doesn't make sense to me. I hope it never will!
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Night is now 5 for 5
wahoowill0123 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
At the showing of Lady in the Water that I went to on Saturday, the theater was less then half full. Compare that to the packed houses that greeted both Unbreakable and Signs when I saw those films. What to make of this low attendance? Were that many people really turned off to M. Night Shyamalan because of the "twist" at the end of The Village (a movie I liked, by the way). Maybe people were just apprehensive after seeing the mediocre to negative reviews that Lady in the Water has been getting in the media. Perhaps they are put off by Shyamalan's perceived arrogance and egomania. Whatever the case, folks are really missing out on nice bit of storytelling.

First of all, a lot of the negative reviews for this film state that it doesn't live up to the standards of horror films. However, Lady in the Water is NOT a horror movie, it's a fantasy. More to the point, it's actually a bedtime story brought to life. The basic story is that a mysterious woman (Bryce Dallas Howard) is discovered in the pool of a suburban Philadelphia apartment building by the building's superintendent, Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti). Heep discovers that she is not of this world, and sets out to return her to her own realm. The scary parts of the story are provided by the wolf-like creature that tries to kill her whenever she is out of the water. Apparently, some reviewers are mistaking this standard fairy tale convention as an attempt at horror, but Lady in the Water is no more an attempt at horror than anything Shyamalan has done since The Sixth Sense. In fact, all of Shyamalan's films, including The Sixth Sense, are better described as "suspense" or "mystery" than as traditional horror films. The meat of all of his films is the storytelling, and the emotional connection to the characters in the movie. The scary bits are just the gravy. In Lady in the Water, the scary parts are more scarce than in any of his other films, but there seems to be more humor, both subtle and otherwise, than in any of the movies that preceded it.

Shyamalan has also been criticized for casting himself in such a large role in this film. While he had cameos in each of his other four movies, his biggest part previously had been as the local man who killed the wife of Mel Gibson's priest in a car accident in Signs. His role in the current film casts him as not only a major character, but without (hopefully) giving away too much, let's just say he's almost Christ-like. Obviously, Shyamalan's critics are having a field day with this one, saying that his egomania has finally taken him over. Would the critics, however, really have liked the film more if Shyamalan had switched roles with Bob Balaban (as a pompous movie critic) or Jeffrey Wright (as the resident who is gifted at solving crossword puzzles) or even Bill Irwin (as the eccentric resident Mr. Leeds)? I think not. If he plays a similar part in his next film, I'll join those who criticize his ego. Until that happens, he's merely playing the role that best suits his vision of the story.

In the end, it's all about the story, or rather the Story. That's the name of Howard's character in the film. She plays the part with a wide-eyed detachment that suits this sort of "outsider" character. The film is teeming with interesting, slightly off kilter people, and much of the film's surprising humor is derived from the supporting cast. It's the interplay between Giamatti and Howard that gives the film its emotional center though. Despite his looks, it appears Giamatti may make a leading man out of himself yet. The man can flat out act. He played mostly bit parts until his breakout role as "Pig Vomit" in 1997's Private Parts. I loved him as Bob Zmuda, Andy Kaufman's best friend, in Man on the Moon, and of course in his lead part of wine connoisseur Miles in Sideways. As with the rest of Shyamalan's movies, it's the slow buildup of the quirky story that pulls you in, but it's Giamatti's superb acting that keeps you there. His scene of emotional release near the end (don't want to give anything away) is truly heartbreaking. You really feel the pain of this man whose life had lost its purpose.

The bottom line is that Shyamalan is now five for five in good movies. While The Sixth Sense is probably still his best made film, and Signs remains my personal favorite, this one is right up there with them. His critics say that all of his films stick to the same basic formula. I agree, but I don't feel that's a bad thing. As long as the plot lines and characters remain interesting, I enjoy going into a M. Night Shyamalan movie knowing that it will be done in his signature style. Night has turned out another winner.
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Poor movie
lennon_reincarnated31 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a movie that should never have come into existence. M. Night did right by trying to do something different, but he failed at trying to make a good bedtime story movie. The characters, aside from Giamatti, are so unbelievable, it's uncanny. They tell them that there's a mermaid who's being chased by dogs in the grass and needs their help so an Eagle can take her home, and they just believe it and come running. This entire script felt so rushed and never once intrigued me. The point at which the guy was trying to tell the future by looking at his crossword puzzle, or when the kid was telling them how to get her home to safety by looking at a cabinet full of cereal boxes. Give me a break. So over the top, so NOT entertaining. M. Night gets an F.
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