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Overall Rating
2.58

Awesome: 10.78%
Worth A Look: 22.16%
Just Average: 13.77%
Pretty Crappy: 20.96%
Sucks32.34%

12 reviews, 95 user ratings


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Lady in the Water
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by EricDSnider

"The surprise twist? She was actually dry the whole time."
3 stars

As an ardent defender of M. Night Shyamalan’s "The Sixth Sense," "Unbreakable" and "Signs" (but not "The Village," because that one stank), it pains me to dis "Lady in the Water." It's the sort of movie that is reasonably enjoyable to watch only until the end, when you realize you've been gypped -- not by some outrageous twist that renders the story ludicrous (as with "The Village"), but because there IS no twist, and this story that has appeared to be going somewhere is in fact going nowhere.

After an animated, narrated and truly pointless explanation of man's history with certainly mythological beings, the film gets right to its story, in which Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti), the stuttering superintendent at an apartment complex, finds a sea nymph, or "narf," in the swimming pool. Her name is Story (Bryce Dallas Howard). She is not allowed to tell Cleveland anything about her world or what she's doing here in ours, so he has to get clues from a tenant named Young-Soon (Cindy Cheung), whose mother used to tell her a bedtime story about narfs (narves?). This story proves to be remarkably accurate vis-à-vis Story's actual circumstances, which makes me curious about the veracity of, say, "Goldilocks and the Three Bears."

Story's deal is that she is in our world to meet someone special, except she doesn't know who, only that he's written something. And once she's met him or her, she has to return to her own world without being attacked by the scrunt, a vicious dog-like creature that's been prowling the grass surrounding the pool whence Story came. She can do this with the aid of additional people who fill additional roles, and no, she doesn't know who they are, and no, she still can't talk about it. So it's kind of slow-going, developing-a-plan-of-action-wise.

Shyamalan has always been a confident (some say arrogant) director, and "Lady in the Water" is his most boldly peculiar film to date. He's so certain you'll be enthralled by his fanciful story that he doesn't bother to make it swallowable. All the talk of narfs and scrunts and suchlike is done without the slightest fear that we'll snicker. The film truly is funny at times, intentionally so; other times, I get the feeling I'm not supposed to be giggling even though I am.

Shyamalan does some nifty things with the story's structure, like using a snippy film critic character (Bob Balaban) to explain how a typical movie's plot works as a commentary on how the plot of "Lady in the Water" itself is working. And you smile and think, "Cute."

But the writer/director calls the movie a bedtime story, and I can see what he means: There are some Characters, and they face an Obstacle, and in the end they Overcome the Obstacle and All Live Happily Ever After. And that's it. That's the basic structure of most stories, of course, but most stories have a little meat on their bones, too, with characters learning and growing and so forth, and "Lady in the Water" gives those matters only a cursory glance. And not for nothin', but most bedtime stories aren't 98 minutes long, either. A pointless, charming little story is fine if it only lasts 10 minutes and is intended to amuse drowsy children.

It's a hit parade of Shyamalan's favorite themes -- crises of faith, loved ones' deaths, watery symbolism -- all hastily assembled without the innovation and passion that marked his first three major films. The movie certainly isn't boring, but when it's over you think: "Really? That was it?" Maybe that's the twist.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14853&reviewer=247
originally posted: 07/21/06 02:41:23
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell not bad imo 4 stars
2/06/17 Leires The movie was sitting on a TNT barrel. Love/hate stuff indeed. 3 stars
7/30/16 Jaekn Not worth the $5.00 to own in one of those superstore box deals 1 stars
3/16/16 Luisa Shyamalan needs to stop acting in his films, no onscreen charisma, it ruins the film 3 stars
5/18/14 JP Williams Standing ovation from a packed theater when my wife and I first saw this. Really enjoyable. 5 stars
3/11/14 Howard Mark Yes, I was in bed, tired as all get out, but my imagination was captured by the characters, 4 stars
7/09/13 Reptilesni Ordinary people become part of something extraordinary. I love this film. 5 stars
2/09/13 Langano If you don't take it so serious you just might enjoy the story. 4 stars
9/19/12 jenn thanks for this, my family and I love this movie. 4 stars
2/05/12 Monica S Charming, moving fairy tale . . . if you give it a chance. Wonderful acting. 4 stars
1/11/11 Perk Good movie. Very sweet fairytale. Might make u cry! Happy ending:) 5 stars
8/08/10 Eric Quite pleasant and a great deal of fun. Good work on storytelling. 4 stars
8/07/10 Bill P Surprisingly good! Great Giamatti! I've recommended it to friends. Surprised at the critic 4 stars
11/07/09 jimbob a picture for the evolved with wonderment, one of the best movies ever, you know i truth 5 stars
10/27/09 Steve I find myself watching it over and over each time it comes on. Flawed, but so enjoyable. 4 stars
6/20/09 JR Wow, so M. Night plays a gifted writer/ prophet who saves the world. My God, what an ego. 1 stars
3/16/09 :] wth...? 1 stars
3/07/09 Raul Valdez Jr not that bad 4 stars
2/20/09 ES Drew me in and kept me up late wanting to see what would happen, lots of great ideas n fun 4 stars
1/19/09 gLottis Giamatti was very genuine, and the film was enchanting 4 stars
1/12/09 Anonymous. one of the worst films i've ever seen. 1 stars
12/21/08 tain movie was interesting... best soundtrack EVER. 3 stars
12/04/08 Shaun Wallner Very Boring! 1 stars
10/22/08 Bonnie An adult fairytale to be sure, and not a bad one, but his true talet lies in scaring people 4 stars
10/13/08 g. just ok 3 stars
9/30/08 Tim Paul Giamatti's Cleveland Heep won me over as he struggled with the pain of his loss. 5 stars
9/28/08 Sean Imaginative and insightful into a fairytale. Absolutely beautiful. 4 stars
9/21/08 Callum It is a beautiful movie. A fairytale everyone should watch. 4 stars
7/24/08 Helden Multilayered & surprisingly satisfying...I enjoy every MNS film I see. 4 stars
7/24/08 jeanne Masturbatory, self-indulgent, utter bollocks! A criminal waste of Giamatti, Wright, Balaban 1 stars
6/21/08 David This film is a brilliant Myth. Dumbies don't get it. 5 stars
6/15/08 LordHat Very good. 5 stars
6/14/08 Casey When I told people who didn't like it, it was a fairytale, I saw a lightbulb go on 5 stars
6/14/08 Steph This movie could be an IQ test. The narrow-minded dim-wits will hate it. 5 stars
5/19/08 PAUL SHORTT IT HAS ALL THE SUBLETY OF A BRICK APPLIED TO THE HEAD 1 stars
3/24/08 John Smith Great film, great review - (not automatically biased as so many critics are!) 5 stars
2/09/08 Deltaboy49 This film has a big, big heart and is full of wonderment 5 stars
1/11/08 pablo Much better than all that Harry Potter nonsense 3 stars
10/01/07 Rick Utter failure, nothing intriguing or new about the ideas 1 stars
8/20/07 Jubei A mess of a film.Zemeckis would've made magic with this premise.Unnerving. 1 stars
8/13/07 Claire Beautifully un-cynical 5 stars
7/06/07 me crappy movie, made no sense 1 stars
6/30/07 Danielle Ophelia I didn't hate it, but I was constantly aware of its shortcomings. 3 stars
5/08/07 Charone Easily one of the dumbest movies I've ever seen in my entire life. 1 stars
4/18/07 zenshark Don't waste your time. 2 stars
4/01/07 Quigley Giamatti is excellent; this movie is not. The opening sequence is the best part 2 stars
3/27/07 fools♫gold OthehumorofShyamalan: castinghimselfastheimportantwriter"whosewordswon'tbeunderstood4years" 3 stars
3/02/07 David Pollastrini Bryce is hot! 2 stars
2/20/07 Stu Padasso It made me believe in people again. 4 stars
2/13/07 The chode Garbage. 1 stars
1/29/07 Indrid Cold A bold, unusual idea for a major studio movie, but it ends up muddled and boring. 3 stars
1/26/07 alice oh my god, this was so boring I could see dead people ! 1 stars
1/10/07 Tracey Chambers How quickly he believes shes something other than ordinary. Turned me off. 1 stars
1/01/07 Rubye Intriguing for those with imagination and magical souls 5 stars
12/28/06 grace yost it was great, excellent will watch it again and again 5 stars
12/14/06 Donny Martwick First half had so much potental. They should of had 100 wolfs and magic powers. 2 stars
12/03/06 Mike Self-indulgent 2 stars
9/27/06 Raj Its like having E Coli for dinner. VOMIT INDUCING CRAP! 1 stars
9/26/06 Erin Amidon ET meets SPLASH and both are utterly clueless as to what to do with each other! 2 stars
9/15/06 Ben The water in my toilet looks better than this! 1 stars
9/14/06 M Night Worth 2 C Not formula mainstream flick 4 stars
9/13/06 Poonam THE WORST FILM OF THE YEAR 1 stars
9/03/06 Jenny Um - The Village was better than this movie - if that tells you anything! 2 stars
9/02/06 Dragon The Artist Not too bad, a hell of a lot better than The Village,about as medieocre as Signs 3 stars
8/30/06 Killjoy Sleep inducing movie he made for his kids and we have to endure the torture! 1 stars
8/25/06 Stanley Thai Not one of M. Night's best but still a great film. 4 stars
8/24/06 Al Guy He's getting tiring. 2 stars
8/23/06 Chad Thomas M. Night has lost his mind! 1 stars
8/21/06 G Sherfy "Tepid" is apt; the world wisens to Night's trick that he's a good direc. 1 stars
8/17/06 KAREN MATLOCK very disappointing 2 stars
8/15/06 Rohit Shocker from the guy who made 'Sixth Sense' - Night gone mental here 1 stars
8/14/06 Becca totally blew ass. cried laughing. WORST MOVIE EVERRR. 1 stars
8/10/06 michael average and wait for the DVD 4 stars
8/09/06 melivorous Great Storytelling 4 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist A hell of a lot better than that everso disappionting The Villiage, thats for sure!! 4 stars
8/06/06 Roadkill Report If you notice, at least in a dozen scenes in the move you can actually see the overhead mic 1 stars
8/06/06 Erik Van Sant Somebody peed in the pool. M. Night Shama-lama-ding-dong has flown the coop. 1 stars
8/05/06 nicklor24 one of my top 10 films, original and fantastic, check it out 5 stars
8/01/06 Forderve So different and original, it's a good fairy tale with deeper meaning than most movies 5 stars
8/01/06 Caddy One of the best movies I've ever seen. Too bad people are so cynical these days. 5 stars
8/01/06 Tim in VA A dreadfully boring and possibly drug-induced cinematic excretion. Two thumbs down. 1 stars
7/31/06 Luisa Great actors...bad movie...M.Knight is only getting worse...he needs to lose the ego... 2 stars
7/30/06 Marty original concept but obvious vendetta for critics. giamatti rocked. 3 stars
7/29/06 Sano Charming, Original...I liked it as well. 4 stars
7/29/06 Troy M. Grzych Held my interest but was a bit slow. I enjoyed the ride. 4 stars
7/28/06 Bad Critic Idea (Narphs and Scrunts) was retarded... but Giamatti was typical with a great performance 3 stars
7/24/06 Ole Man Bourbon Beyond ridiculous. Superlatively horrid. Egad. 1 stars
7/24/06 moondog cliché, tired, expected... worst movie I've ever seen 1 stars
7/24/06 Mark This deserves negative stars 1 stars
7/23/06 ahnold Still imaginitive, original and entertaining. 4 stars
7/23/06 Jay Yup this movie sucked big time. Oh and the Chinese woman is actually Korean. 1 stars
7/23/06 Roy Smith It's ridiculous...and I loved it. I'm strange, so sue me. 4 stars
7/21/06 David Hollingsworth It really doesn't make sense. 2 stars
7/21/06 Nightjorn crap movie crap movie crap movie 1 stars
7/21/06 scotty great movie great movie great movie 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  21-Jul-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 19-Dec-2006

UK
  18-Aug-2006

Australia
  07-Sep-2006




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