Apartment building superintendent Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) and his tenants (including Jeffrey Wright and Bob Balaban) think a bedtime tale has come true when mysterious Story (Bryce Dallas Howard) emerges from the building's pool. With Shyamalan as a writer whose work is foretold to change the world. Yep, he's that modest.
Big question: Can writer/director/producer/co-star M. Night Shyamalan ("The Sixth Sense," "The Village") tackle a fairy tale and resist closing with a trick ending?
Skip it: Surprise! Shyamalan doesn't hinge the movie on a twist, but neither Story--nor the film's story--is especially compelling. This is the filmmaker's flimsiest concept and directorial outing yet, and he continues to take himself and his movies way too seriously.
Catch it: If seeing Reggie (Freddy Rodriguez) exercise only the right side of his body will half-motivate you to bulk up. Chicks dig muscles, not symmetry!
Bottom line: Any magic lurking in this fairy tale is smothered by Shyamalan's need to play everything straight. "Lady in the Water" is so overcome by stiffness and pretense that even another good performance from Giamatti can't keep the movie's head above water.
Bonus: Shyamalan responds to bad reviews of "The Village" by killing off a film critic character in "Lady in the Water." Watch for me in his next movie!
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
'Lady in the Water'
Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan; cinematography by Christopher Doyle; edited by Barbara Tulliver; production design by Martin Childs; music by James Newton Howard; produced by Shyamalan and Sam Mercer. A Warner Bros. Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:50. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for some frightening sequences).
Cleveland Heep - Paul Giamatti
Story - Bryce Dallas Howard
Farber - Bob Balaban
Dury - Jeffrey Wright
Anna Ran - Sarita Choudhury
Reggie - Freddy Rodriguez
Leeds - Bill IrwinCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times