Lady in the Water – DVD Review

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M. Night Shyamalan

Paul Giamatti….Cleveland Heep
Bryce Dallas Howard….Story
Jeffrey Wright….Mr. Dury
Bob Balaban….Harry Farber
Sarita Choudhury….Anna Ran
Cindy Cheung….Young-Soon Choi
M. Night Shyamalan….Vick Ran
Freddy Rodriguez….Reggie

Warner Home Video presents Lady in the Water. Screenplay by M. Night Shyamalan. Running time: 109 minutes. Rated PG-13. Theatrical release July 21, 2006. DVD released Dec. 19, 2006.

The good news about Lady in the Water is that M. Night Shyamalan made a film that can’t be spoiled by revealing a single “gotcha” moment. No way to spoil this plot in a quick sentence. The bad news is that after 100 minutes, you wish there was a real “gotcha” moment. The film is supposed to be a child’s bedtime story. It’s easy imagine a kid to falling asleep halfway through this tale.

For a hero we’re given Cleveland Heep, an overworked maintaince man at the Coves apartment complex. He lives in a cottage next to pool. He’s doomed to spend his days killing bugs and unclogging sinks for unusual tenants. One night he discovers a naked woman in his pool. She’s not human, but a Narf. She is at the Coves so that a certain resident will glimpse her and write a great book that will inspire a child to run for president. But she’s not sure who the writer is. Heep’s first job is to find the tenant. In order for her inspiration to take hold, there has to be a people to fulfill mythical roles that will summon a giant eagle to take her back to the water. Heep has to solve this puzzle amongst the denizens. The big threat in the story comes from Scrunts. They are wolf-like creatures that camouflage themselves as grass when they get low to the ground. They want to stop the narf’s inspirational work.

The scrunts look fierce as a mixture of wolf and sod with their grass bladed backs. But being in a PG-13 film really limited their potential for carnage. These creatures needed a few scenes of blood and guts R-rated action. But that wouldn’t allow the film to be for the kiddies.

This really isn’t that great of children’s story. Why would you want your youngsters to think that their creative genius depends on a spotting a naked woman in a swimming pool? Are we that helpless as a species? The most self-serving moment is that M. Night Shyamalan cast himself as the writer that will inspire the future president with his work. Somehow it’s more egotistical than if he just played the president. I doubt anyone watching Lady in the Water will use it to launch their run for the White House. If he’s lucky, M. Night will inspire a few kids to turn off the TV set and go to White Castle. Shyamalan is the worst actor on the screen. In a cast that features top rate talent, he’s a kid playing a tree in the school play. Except he’s less “The Mighty Oak” and more “The Scrawny Shrub.” There’s a reason why Hitchcock limited his on screen time to cameos and pimping his films in trailers. This director should have followed the Master’s advice.

Giamatti’s well cast. He looks like a guy who’d get stuck snaking toilets for a low rent masses. Bryce Dallas Howard looks like the sister of David Bowie’s Man Who Fell To Earth. Many of the elements in Lady in the Water are exemplary including the production design and cinematography. But the story and resolution play out like watching other people making guesses in a game of Clue. M. Night made a movie where there’s very little to giveaway cause there’s not that much to be taken. If my dad had told me this as a bedtime story, I’d fake snoring to get him to clam up and out of my room.

The DVD:

The picture is 1:85:1 anamorphic.

The soundtracks are English, French and Spanish in 5.1 Dolby Surround EX. The subtitles are in English, French and Spanish.


Lady in the Water: A Bedtime Story (5:01) M. Night pimps his children’s book that he based the script on. He teases us with a short reading and a few pictures. Shame he didn’t just read the entire 64 page book. He really gets stoked in thinking parents will read this to their kids over and over. Are the stoner characters in the book?

Reflections of Lady in the Water (34:46) is the making-of featurette.

Auditions (2:11) gives quick glimpses of people auditioning for the role getting sick. It’s a cavalcade of fake puking moments.

Gag Reel (3:15) is a cheat since the footage is video taken from the behind the scenes crew and not the 35mm camera. What happened to the filmed goofs?

Deleted Scenes (5:01) has two pensive scenes between Giamatti and Howard, Also more of Paul swimming to the bottom of the pool. The grass “rising” and the sprinklers coming on. A minor moment with the stoners. We see a description of the eagle’s arrival. All the footage look horrible as if taken from a low resolution video of the work print.

Trailers has both the Teaser and the Theatrical Trailer

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Lady in the Water
(OUT OF 10)






Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.