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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 brianorndorf

"It had me, then it lost me...in a very big way"
2 stars

M. Night Shyamalan reaches the bottom of his creative barrel with “Lady in the Water.” An attempt to bring back the lilting essence of a bedtime story for children, “Water” instead stuns with its display of ego and directorial foolishness. Any initial magic happened upon in the first act is erased as the picture drones on, concluding with a whimper and surely much displeasure from the average viewer.

A custodian at the “The Cove” apartment building, Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti, regressing back to his old, tiring acting tics I thought were gone for good) lives a quiet life of routine and solitude. One fateful evening, Cleveland encounters a “narf” (think a less bitchin’ mermaid) named Story (Bryce Dallas Howard), who clings to the distant man looking for protection. A character from a little known bedtime tale, Story searches for help to get back to her mysterious home, forcing Cleveland to turn to his fellow residents (including Jeffrey Wright, Bill Irwin, and Jared Harris) for assistance in deciphering the codes Story can’t crack and stop the vicious, fantastical creatures that have been sent to kill the narf.

A common complaint lobbed toward writer/director M. Night Shyamalan is his often shameless display of ego. Clearly his films have demonstrated a uniqueness and patience that tower over many lesser offerings, and the loner attitude of his productions, regardless of their artistic success rate, is something to be celebrated. “Lady in the Water,” however, crosses a new line for Shyamalan: contempt for his audience.

The concept for “Lady” as being a newfangled take on age-old bedtime stories is dripping with possibilities for pure Shyamalan mythmaking the director hasn’t explored since 2000’s frustrating “Unbreakable.” Utilizing his relaxed and deliberate style of filmmaking, the director sinks his talons into the audience early, setting up the mystery between Cleveland and Story with perfect shades of magic and confusion, allowing the viewer the pleasure of standing back and marveling at this impossible situation.

For a good 2/3 of the picture, Shyamalan had me with this extended, but cautiously measured trip into fantasyland. The blizzard of terms like “narf” and “scrunt” certainly can get overwhelming and if there’s one thing that defines this director, it would be his complete unwillingness to explain anything he’s up to in respectful detail; but to take it all in at once lends a magic to “Lady” that it might not otherwise have. The viewer is pushed forcefully into this tale, and the fun lies in trying to drink in the storybook details before it comes time to pay it all off.

This is where Shyamalan bungles the whole film.

It isn’t that the director has cast himself again in a crucial supporting role, though the fact that Shyamalan has more screentime than Howard is cause for great concern (she can act circles around the amateurish director). I’ll also temper my concern over the film’s marketing, which labels the film a bedtime story, but is far more violent and dark than any kid under 13 should see. No, my central objection is bent more toward the obvious.

In what can only be considered a dig at his most vocal detractors, Shyamalan has written one of the apartment dwellers to be an uptight, blowhard film critic, who Cleveland seeks to help point out the clichés in the narf story to best attack the overall situation. At first, it’s cute and makes an obvious point, but the filmmaker doesn’t stop there. Shyamalan eventually halts the movie completely to blast the very notion of film criticism, taking precious screen time away from Cleveland and Story to make certain the audience understands the vileness and pointlessness of the profession. Rob Zombie pulled the same stunt in last year’s “Devil’s Rejects,” but did so with wit and speed that didn’t leave a skid mark. Here, Shyamalan seeks to destroy his bitter enemy.

By including this pointless, self-serving aside, and then paying so much attention to it, Shyamalan breaks the spell he was casting, and the film soon stumbles into repetition and lifelessness, eventually leading to a scarily unremarkable conclusion that doesn‘t earn any awe or fantasy splendor it was looking to invoke.

If Shyamalan wants to slap around film critics, hey, fine by me; but to sacrifice your entire film to do so reeks of a director who could stand to hear a little more “no” in his life.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14853&reviewer=404
originally posted: 07/21/06 01:10:26
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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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