Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Month Turkey of the Month: "Lady in the Water"

Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S readers and those Americans scattered about the globe. Thanksgiving in the U.S. is all about the turkey, which is why November is 'Turkey Month 'here at Caliban's Revenge.

And what a turkey I have for you tonight. Philadelphia-based  writer/director M. Night Shyamalan made a name for himself with 1999's The Sixth Sense, starring Bruce Willis and a young Haley Joel Osment as the boy who could "...see dead people." His follow-up film Unbreakable (also starring Willis) was a pretentious mess about a "real-life" superhero (Willis) and his brittle-boned nemesis (Samuel L. Jackson in a ridiculous wig). 2002's Signs, about an unlikely alien invasion some major plot issues (Why would aliens who were deathly allergic to water try to invade a planet that is 90% water? They can travel billions of light-years, but can't figure out how to operate a doorknob?), but it featured some lovely low-key acting from its stars Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix. Then came 2004's The Village, a movie I actively stood up and booed after it was over. I swore I'd never see a Shyama-lama-ding-dong film again.

Then came 2006's Lady in the Water, filmed not less than two miles from Uncle P's house on the grounds of a former 3M plant. I would drive by and watch the set go up and then later come down, all the while curious as to whether or not I would hate this movie, too. When it finally hit theaters, the reviews were... well, terrible. I waited until it came out on DVD and rented it. And was sorry I did.

Lady in the Water stars Paul Giamatti as Cleveland Heep, an apartment complex maintenance man who discovers Story (Bryce Dallas Howard), a creature from the 'Blue World' called a  'Narf,' in the complex's pool. The almost incoherent plot revolves around Story's efforts to find and encourage a writer (Shyamalon) who is destined to write a book  that will change the world. Story is also being pursued by werewolf-like monsters called 'Scrunts,' who want to stop her, even though they've been forbidden the Blue World's simian leaders, 'The Tartutic.' After she completes her mission, Story is whisked home by a giant eagle-creature called 'The Great Eatlon.' Huh?

Supposedly based on a story Ding-dong made up for his own daughters, the convoluted plot involves cereal boxes, suppressed grief and a whole bunch of crap that makes no sense at all. Sadly, Jeffrey Wright; Bob Balaban; Mary Beth Hurt; Bill Irwin; Tovah Feldshuh and Freddy Rodriguez (all actors who deserve better) are tenants who figure into the nonsensical mythology Shyamalan tries to create. 

I watched this movie three times, falling asleep before it was over twice. When I finally made it through the whole thing, I still had no idea what the hell was going on. Of course, even this piece of crap movie didn;t stop Hollywood producers from throwing money at Shyamalon and he went on to make the Universally panned The Happening (about killer trees) and the video game-based The Last Airbender (also hated by every critic who had to sit through it).I have seen neither of these movies, nor do I intend to. I simply refuse to put another dollar in the man's pocket.

I'm not one to wish ill on anyone, but I really hope that producers have finally learned their lesson and never let M.Night Shyamalan make another movie as long he lives.

More, anon.


Mrs. Mount said...

happy post-turkey day! did you see devil?? that is evidence shamayalan or however you spell him, still got monies recently! i thought it wasn't too bad considering his other crapola...i did like a few of his but not for the right reasons, as you state. i like chris messina, so hence devil had special appeal. ;) xoxo

Anonymous said...

"They can travel billions of light-years, but can't figure out how to operate a doorknob?"
I know it's probably an unacceptable stretch, but I thought this was a nice touch: their knowledge is so packed into the 'complex' end of the spectrum that the 'simple' eludes them. Otherwise, I found "Signs" to be a terrific homage to "The Birds". I found it quite scary, especially the bit with the appearance of the alien in the videotape at the children's birthday party.
The problem becomes watching ANY movie with Mel Gibson.
Otherwise, has there ever been in the history of Hollywood a lengthier string of completely terrible movies where someone just kept right on funding 'the next one'? It's mind-boggling.