Once upon a time there was a man named Night who told stories using moving pictures. Night was quite competent at his chosen craft, and eventually made The Sixth Sense, a big film that made big money. So pleased with this success were the lords that produced Night’s films that they gave him everything a director would want to realize his vision, lucre and creative freedom included. But then, in feverish reaction to the heaps of praise lavished on him, Night grew an enormous head, one so full of delusional self-righteousness that those same producers now saw Night could not be trusted, and cast Night from their magic kingdom. Although Night found other lords who would indulge his pretentious whims, his initial benefactors were correct. For they had seen Lady in the Water, and they had foreseen Night’s ruin.
Now, imagine a story — sorry, “bedtime story” — about a building super (poor Paul Giamatti) who discovers a life-changing sea nymph (Bryce Dallas Howard). Imagine it bogged down with exposition and cliché in every plot maneuver. Imagine crass, painful insertions of self-reference designed to justify these clichés. Picture Howard as a messianic innocent speaking in stilted, conjunction-less new age platitudes (“every being has a purpose”). Or Night himself pompously playing a young writer inspired to write a text that will foment future revolution. Consider how that and the appearance of a noxious film critic are ostensibly payback for anyone who failed to appreciate his last bomb, The Village. But above all imagine this debacle as the unintentionally hilarious, sanctimonious result of Night’s embarrassing self-importance, believing his CGI-pocked corn has the emotional resonance to transform the world. Only when Night’s overrated career is finished by this abortion of a film will there be a happily-ever-after.
Opens July 21