Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Lady in the Water, 2006
You should know
I’ve been M. Night Shyamalan’s fan since seeing The Sixth Sense in 1999. I actually saw my now-closed local theater’s first showing of Unbreakable – it was the opening day matinee and I had a half-day at school. I loved those two movies, and found Signs to be decent but not as enjoyable, and The Village to be a lot better than most people thought it was.
Dan and I were bored, so we went to see what was in theaters. I had heard bad things about Lady in the Water, so I hadn’t seen it yet this summer, but it was the best-looking thing we could agree on, and I did want to see it in theaters rather than wait for the video.
A guy and his wife are playing some golf. The guy hits his shot, but slices it really badly and can only watch as it flies into an open window nearby and makes a crashing noise.
The two of them immediately run over to the house to see the damage. Inside they find an old man near a broken vase. He looks at the couple and says, "Oh thank god! I'm a genie and I've been stuck in that damn vase for 10,000 years. As a reward for freeing me, I'll grant you 3 wishes."
The husband says, "This is awesome. I want a mansion."
The genie replies, "Go three miles out of town and you will find a huge mansion with your name on it."
The guy then says, "I wish I was a multi-millionaire."
The genie replies, "In the basement of your home you will find a vault filled with money."
The guy then says, "I wish I had an awesome car."
The genie replies, "In the driveway of your mansion you will see your dream car."
The guy is quite happy and thanks the genie for granting his wishes. The genie says, "Hey before you go could I have one favor? I've been cooped up in that bottle for almost 10,000 years and your wife is very, very beautiful. Would you mind if I slept with her?"
The guy thinks for a moment and says, "Well... you did grant me my three wishes... so I guess it’s ok."
The genie and wife go off to the back room and do their thing. Afterwards the old man turns to the wife and asks, "How old is your husband."
She answers, "42, why?"
He replies "Don't you think that’s a little old to still believe in genies?"
Dan told me this joke as we left the theater, saying that he was reminded of it all through the movie. “Where’s the skepticism?” he insisted, criticizing the characters’ actions and the writing driving them
Shyamalan has a lot of talent, and the story actually has a lot of potential. I really think he could have – and should have – done better. I don’t know if he’s burning out, or needs to try a completely different genre, or what. Maybe he should have stayed on with The Life of Pi, and taken the opportunity to step back from his own imagination.
I don’t have a problem with Shyamalan playing one of his own major characters. I do think the character wasn’t good for him. The writing was off, the acting was off, the directing was off, and it was all him. Put any one of the three into someone else’s hands, and it could have been better.
There was no giant twist, so those who go expecting The Sixth Sense will be disappointed, as they were when they saw The Village
(As an aside, I think the disappointment of The Village had a lot to do with expectations. The Sixth Sense, and to lesser extents Unbreakable and Signs were known for their plot twists. People complain about Shyamalan relying too much on plot twists, but when he finally backed off, they were still looking for them, and saw “failed surprises” in what were actually natural plot progressions. Add to that the fact that the ad campaigns were pushing a horror film, and Shyamalan himself did a faux documentary to push the movie, and only someone who goes in expecting to enjoy what’s put in front of them without bringing baggage can enjoy it.)
For fans only
If you’ve enjoyed the rest of Shyamalan’s work and want to keep up with his output, go see it. If you’re among those few of us who enjoyed The Village, then you might be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s not that good a movie, though, and if you’re not a fan of Shyamalan (or Bryce Dallas Howard, or Paul Giamatti), then you might not want to bother.
The rest of the internet
A site dedicated to Shyamalan.
The IMDb page.
The critics at Rotten Tomatoes were not impressed.
Watch out for spoilers at Wikipedia.
The reviewer at The Movie Binge has the same complaints I do… but far less sympathy.
The Blue Parrot takes issue with Shyamalan’s ego.
Jeff at Minutiae was more forgiving of Shyamalan's made-up creatures.
Matt at [sic] offers one of the few positive reviews for the movie that I've seen.