Lady in the Water Review
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I’ve got to hand it to M. Night Shyamalan. He promotes himself well. Every trailer has a man with a booming voice announcing that this is an M. Night Shyamalan movie. Every poster has his name in extra-large type. And with that booming voice and extra-large type, he convinces people everywhere that they should actually care that there’s another M. Night Shyamalan movie coming out. Not only should they care—they should be excited. They should forget that they haven’t really liked any of his movies since The Sixth Sense, and they should go running out to see it.

I don’t know about you, but he gets me every time. I keep seeing his movies, thinking that he’s going to do something brilliant again—like he did once, ages ago—but, unfortunately, it just doesn’t happen.

Lady in the Water, M. Night’s latest, tells the story of Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti), the stuttering superintendent of The Cove, a run-down apartment building full of misfits. One night, Cleveland discovers a mysterious woman (Bryce Dallas Howard) who’s been living in the tunnels beneath the building’s pool. The woman, named Story, is a narf, a sort of mystical sea creature from a place called The Blue World. Through a bedtime story told by one of the building’s residents, Cleveland learns that Story has been sent to this world to bring an awakening in a very important person, her “vessel.” Once she meets her vessel, she can return to her world and be free. But there’s a huge creature waiting by the pool to keep her from returning to her world—so Cleveland enlists the help of a number of the misfits from The Cove to help her.

Story’s…um…story could have actually been quite interesting. Unfortunately, it’s overdone to the point of being ridiculous. The characters, instead of being normal people who find themselves capable of doing something spectacular, are stereotypical goofballs. I wouldn’t expect the people watching an M. Night Shyamalan movie to be doubled over with laughter—nor do I think that’s what he intended. But that’s what he got—because he takes everything too far. The drama is painfully melodramatic, the punch lines are too silly, and the hints are far too obvious. The result isn’t much of a dramatic thriller. It’s more like M. Night Shyamalan’s Scary Movie 5.

On top of all that, with this movie, M. Night’s egomania soars to amazing new heights. Instead of the usual cameo, M. Night gives himself a pretty key role—as the ground-breaking (yet fabulously humble) writer whose work will go on to touch lives and change the world as we know it. He also writes an obnoxious know-it-all film critic into the movie. Can you guess what happens to him in the end?

I recently saw a clip of M. Night saying he’d be happy if, after seeing this movie, people are just a little bit afraid to go out in their back yard. But after seeing Lady in the Water, I’m not afraid of my back yard. I’m not even afraid of my fate as an obnoxious, know-it-all film critic. The only thing I truly fear is M. Night Shyamalan’s next movie.

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