Lady in the Water (2006)

I wish there were mystical, sexy-ish creatures swimming around in my pool after closing time. Instead, it’s just me and my drunk friends.

This part may be a little hard to talk about, but hell, I’ll give it a try. Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) works at the Cove apartment complex and does whatever he can to get by throughout the day. He cleans bathrooms, kills bugs, changes light-bulbs, does everything really, but he never seems happy. All of that somehow changes when the mysterious creature Story (Bryce Dallas Howard), shows up in his pool saying that she needs to go back to land. She tries to, but finds out that a scary monster is there to attack her, and it’s up to Cleveland and the rest of the tenants to fight back and help Story get back to her home-land and hopefully, tell her story.

We all know that M. Night is a story-teller and loves to give us somewhat strange, wacky tales that can only occur in his mind, and his mind alone, but this is where I think people started to grow impatient with the dude. The Village was a bit of the last-straw, but I think more people were apologetic on that one because it had some good features to it. If not, and it’s only me who feels that way, so be it because I will go-to-bat for the dude anytime of the day, night, or week. But this is where things started to not only change for me, but for plenty others as well. And it hasn’t been pretty since.

It’s obvious that M. Night is making this story so that kids will want to go with their families and see all of the wonderful, wildness that M. has to bring to this slightly-original fable, but I highly doubt that’s what came out here. Yes, it is a fairy-tell that captures the wonder and imagination of a kids mind, but it also seems too confusing in terms of what it’s trying to say, where it’s trying to go, and how freakin’ pretentious it is. It’s been said that M. Night is a bit of a cocky dude who feels as if he can do wrong (just watch some of his movies and you might just see differently), and I’ve always put my hand of separation between me and those nay-sayers, but now I can totally see where they are coming from. The dude thinks he’s the shit, and if I’m not just talking about his story, I’m also talking about the character he plays here.

If you're going to throw a banger, the pool has to at least big 3x bigger than that kiddie-shit!
If you’re going to throw a banger, the pool has to at least big 3x bigger than that kiddie-shit!

Instead of having himself play a small-role, or even a cameo like he usually does, M. gives himself a character that is not only one of the biggest parts of the whole movie, but probably the most important since his character is a writer, who’s future piece-of-work is supposed to inspire and influence generations and generations to come. A bit self-indulgent? You think!??! And hell, it wouldn’t been half-bad if the dude could have backed it all up with some nice acting, but the dude seriously can’t act for shit in this movie. His character is supposed to be pretentious and cocky, but instead, he just comes off like a whiny-ass that always comes to Cleveland whenever he needs a light-bulb fixed, his rug washed, or house ram-sacked so that people can see what he’s up to.

However, M.’s problem with his character is the same problem that everybody else in this movie seems to be having as well. God bless Giamatti, but the dude really seems to be phoning it in here. And that’s not just his fault, but more of the character’s and how M. writes him as being. We first see this Cleveland dude as an obviously sad, lonely, and depressed dude that has a stutter, so why the hell would he all of a sudden help out, let alone, actually believe this mystical creature as a thing from a different world? Oh, I don’t know, maybe cause he’s had a tragedy bestowed upon him that’s only brought up once? Yeah, maybe that’s it. Regardless of what the real reason was, I didn’t care, I didn’t understand, and I felt bad for Giamatti as it seems like he got roped into doing this, just so he could work with “that guy who did the Sixth Sense.”

Somehow, I feel that’s why anybody still works with the dude, even until this day.

Everybody else suffers from the same problems that Giamatti does as well. Jeffrey Wright’s character is the type of dude that seems to know almost anything and everything about the English language, just through doing a whole bunch of crossword puzzles, and yet, we are actually supposed to believe that the fate in humanity rests in his hands, as well as his own kid’s, who reads cereal boxes all day. Yup, believe that for sure! But the list of characters go on and on and on, almost to the point of where you stop feeling bad for M., not realizing that he’s losing all control, but for the obviously, very-talented people involved with this movie.

People like Freddy Rodriguez, Jared Harris, and Sarita Choudhury are all here, and trying to do whatever the hell it is that they can, but all fall fate to M. Night’s crappy-writing. He tries to make these characters funny with their own little quirks here and there, but none of it even comes together for the finale to make sense, nor does it ever come together to make us laugh. The movie tries whatever it can to do both of those things (laugh and make sense), but fails miserably and it’s all because of M. Night. The dude may know how to make a shot interesting and make any type of atmosphere as every-bit of tense and eerie, but he can’t write snappy-dialogue, unless the actors/actresses are up to it. I don’t know if everybody was up to it here, but something did not mix so well.

He's got the whole world of this chick's life, in his hands....
He’s got the whole world of this chick’s life, in his hands….

The only person I can say who wasn’t involved with any of the shit-talking I was doing up there is Bryce Dallas Howard as Story, and the only reason I don’t include here is because her character is so dry (funny, because she’s the lady in the WATER), so dull, and so boring, that you don’t ever understand what makes her such a wonderful creature to save, let alone, go nuts for. I get it, she’s almost like a mermaid and has mystical powers, but does that mean we too are supposed to give two shits about her character and how her fate rests in these num-skulls’ hands? Hell to the no! Obviously M. Night cares, but we can’t share the same feelings, which is probably how most people have been feeling for the longest time when it comes to them and the dude.

Poor guy. He’s from Philly, he likes his twist-endings, and he’s got a great name that’s easy to make jokes about, but he just can’t seem to win nowadays.

Consensus: The Lady in the Water is a self-indulgent mess that finds M. Night at his most cocky and arrogant, for the sole-purpose that he thinks everything he’s doing is right, smart, and makes sense, but doesn’t care too realize that he might, just might, be going a tad over-board with the ideas and turns his story takes, as obvious as they are.

2 / 10 = Crapola!!

Go on, Paul. Take a dip. You deserve it buddy.
Go on, Paul. Take a dip. You deserve it buddy.


  1. What a piece of shit that film was. It was just absolutely moronic and you had Bob Balaban as a film critic who gets killed. Shyamalan fucking sucks and I hope his new film sucks… no wait.. it will suck. I don’t give a fuck where he’s from. I’m glad Disney chose not to make this film because even they make shitty movies. At least they were smart enough not to greenlight that piece of shit.

  2. Yeah this one really left a lot to be desired! Good review!

    PS: Sorry, I saw somewhere along the line my WordPress unfollowed you!

  3. Yeah, boring and silly movie. But I did like Bryce in it, she is gorgeous and very talented but she could do very little with that character.

  4. “freakin’ pretentious” is putting it lightly. Signs, the last act in particular, really started my hatred towards “Night.” This piece of dreck and his casting of himself really showed me all I needed to know about him and he hasn’t proven me wrong since. Great rundown of an awful film!

  5. “M. gives himself a character that is not only one of the biggest parts of the whole movie, but probably the most important since his character is a writer, who’s future piece-of-work is supposed to inspire and influence generations and generations to come. A bit self-indulgent? You think!??!” LOL. I’m glad you touched on that, that’s always one of the things I found MOST laughable about this movie 🙄 Not that there’s any shortage of laughable things.

    You’re spot on here, Dan, this movie is a ridiculous mess. M Night’s ego was out of control on this one. There was a facinating book written about it too, called “The Man Who Hears Voices”. This journalist happened to latch on to Shyamalan just as this movie was being conceived, and he followed it all the way through the first studio dropping it, etc. It was awesome. Fascinating read… Shyamalan came off a bit nutty 😯

  6. Oh friend, you really tortured yourself by viewing this atrocity and The Last Airbender back to back. You ok?
    “…her character is so dry (funny, because she’s the lady in the WATER)” OMG! Gold. You’re a riot!

  7. It’s a fair review, and I can agree with a lot of it, though I didn’t mind the film really, yes it has issues, but it’s a fairytale born from a story he told his kids. At least he tried to do his own thing, everyone moans there is no originality in films anymore, well this was original. Fair enough it’s not perfect but I would take this film over Movie 43, Scary Movie 5 or Texas Chainsaw 3D.
    The cast do try, and I do agree MNS struggles writing decent scripts and creating strong characters but to actually hate someone for turning out a bad film is beyond me, I didn’t like The Village and really disliked all 3 of the films I mentioned before, but I don’t hate anyone for making them. It was my choice to watch them even knowing how bad they were going to be, I have no-one to blame but myself!

    • I don’t hate him for these movies, in fact, I think he’s got a couple more good ones left in him, I just have yet to have seen it recently. Hopefully that comes around sooner than later.

      • No – It wasn’t you hating him, just a general “hate” by people towards films and production crews involved in them films. Just find it bizarre people take it so personally when they watch a bad film. 🙂

        I think he will get it right one day, and he’ll get an Oscar etc etc

  8. I didn’t find it as repulsive as you did but close. I would say that people started losing patience with M. right after The Village, though one could argue his films have gone steadily downhill in terms of quality since The Sixth Sense.
    I do agree with you about the dialogue. M can’t seem to write anything that is not mystical or sci-fi in nature. He simply doesn’t have the chops to pull off comedy or mild suggestions of satire.
    There are, as usual in his work, some good ideas and some decent compositions, but the story is so overcomplicated and uninspiring that he loses us pretty early on. The second worst film he’s made, just below the terrible The Happening.

  9. I kinda smiled at a lot of your points and thinking back on the movie. Lot of good points here, but I (hides head under desk) didn’t hate it… LOL. I give Giamatti more props, I thought he nailed the scene where he heals Story, and I kinda liked that he was a character with a tragic background but just kept truckin’, looking for something to hope in. Howard did okay as Story, though I could’ve used more than two facial expressions out of her! Still not a “good” movie, most of your points are well made.
    Also, I see you reviewed The Happening. You on a Shyamalan kick to lead up to After Earth?

  10. This movie kept me wondering what I was watching. It felt so empty! It was just the name which turned out to be interesting. Good take 🙂

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