Blake Rutherford, the driving force behind the Movies in the Park series and man about town and movie theaters, and our movie critic David Koon discuss the new M. Night Shyamalan film "Lady in the Water," which is playing locally and which has nationally garnered mixed reviews:
Blake: I saw it Sunday. Walked out.
David: Walked out? I thought it was pretty bad too, but no summer blockbuster is so bad I won't stay and get my six dollars worth of air conditioning.
Blake: I would have rather draped myself head to toe in wool and stood in the parking lot and its glorious 112 degree heat for the remaining 45 minutes than have to watch another minute of that film. And I don't walk out of movies, especially in the summer time.
David: My problem was that "Lady" just asked too damned much of the audience — particularly the fact that you have to believe that if a nekkid woman showed up in the pool of an apartment complex, speaking without contractions and claiming she's a princess from a parallel world, folks wouldn't immediately call the Academy of Laughter for a pickup.
Blake: I agree with your point that it asked way too much of the audience. I kept asking myself "this is all a big joke, right?" First there was this girl, who talked slowly, and who appeared to enjoy sleeping on Paul Giamatti's couch, which he too enjoyed, excusing the fact that she was always wet and came from some portal to a magical world which just happened to be in his swimming pool. She's a sea nymph, but M. Night renamed her a "narf." I'm not sure why.
David: Giamatti was excellent as always, but it was only in spite of the horrible plot. Speaking of that, did you stick around long enough for all the "Guild," "Interpreter," "Healer," nonsense? Jeese. That was the most cringe-worth thing I've seen in awhile. The only thing I can compare it to in recent memory is "Shark Boy and Lava Girl." Just utter, starry-eyed baloney.
Blake: There is the movie critic, whom, I have come to learn, gets eaten by the scrunt as an up-yours to the entire movie critic establishment. And who says filmmakers are petty? Jeffrey Wright, a brilliant actor, plays a guy who just stepped out of "Wordplay" with his ability to work crosswords but nothing else. There's a woman with cats who once wrote a book and man who watches war on television all day. And then there's M. Night as a writer working on a book called "The Cookbook," which is compiled, as he states, of random thoughts and ideas. But as the film soon tells us, he's a vessel for this sea nymph to be able to hitch a ride with an eagle to a place called the Blue World. And then maybe he would get that book finished? Would M. Night's book somehow save all of humanity?
Wait a minute, I asked myself, this sea nymph had to swim all the way to Philadelphia. Now she gets to fly back after taking a long hard look at M. Night and giving him that tingling feeling? That's too easy. Oh yeah, there's this scrunt thing running outside. This isn't going to be that easy after all.
So back to this scrunt, which is, from what I could tell, some kind of a wolf/dog/wild boar with a serious beef with this particular narf. It had an uncanny ability to surprise its prey thanks to a grass-like fur which allowed for it to, in a field of grass, appear just like ... grass. Sneaky. Sneaky.
There are also monkeys that hang from trees. Great, I thought. Maybe Curious George would save me from this miserable movie. But then I find out that these monkeys are mean and if you look at them you die. These monkeys don't take orders from some green-faced witch, however. Instead, they control this underworld of nymphs, scrunts, crossword puzzle wizards, movie critics, writers, and a woman with cats. These are sophisticated monkeys. Take that, Victor Fleming.
But as for what really happens, I still don't know. I figured if it was a bedtime story, that the narf escaped the scrunt and made it back to the Blue World, maybe with the maintenance man or M. Night clinging to the wings of this super special eagle. Maybe there'd be a Bette Midler tune followed by M. Night giving a reading at the 92nd Street Y on the eve of winning a Pulitzer. I didn't care then, even though it was hot outside. And I still don't.
The previews claimed this this was a bedtime story and, after some checking around on the Internet, one that Mr. "Sixth Sense" himself made up for his children. I wanted to call those kids and ask "you couldn't convince him to put some Maurice Sendak up on the big screen?"
David: My question is, when will M. Night finally run out of goodwill-gas from "The Sixth Sense" and start being a liability for his own films? His visuals are great, but his plots have really sucked the last two or three go-rounds.
Blake: You asked a great question, "when will M. Night run out of goodwill gas . . .and start being a liability for his own films?"
One would think with four flops ("Unbreakable," "Signs," "The Village" and now "Lady..."), that it would be soon. But somehow I doubt it. Remember, this is the same wordsmith who wrote the script for "Stuart Little."
Conversations is a periodical feature of the Little Rocking blog involving critics and movie and TV buffs discussing current films, shows and the like. Feel free to add your two cents in the comments, and email us if you'd like your expert opinion to be added to the roundtable one of these days.