Film Corner: Lady in the Water

Lady in the Water

Kissmate wants me to watch Lady In The Water, which I have avoided because I thought it was a horror movie about drowning. Kissmate has assured me there is no drowning in this one. I'm trying to make heads or tails of this movie description. "A building manager rescues an enigmatic young woman and learns that she is a 'narf', a character from a bedtime story, who is trying to return to her world." WTF is a narf? I thought I was fluent in fairy tales, but this just makes me think of Pinky and the Brain.

I'm a little worried because I see where it very clearly says "M. Night Shyamalan" on the image thumbnail, and Kissmate is treating this like he's about to watch an entertaining trainwreck. I'm pressing 'play' warily. I am worried. We get little stick drawings, like with the rusalka movie. A gruff man tells us that people used to be linked to "those in the water". Mermaids? Rusalka? Shark-people?

We get a frankly bonkers tale here, in terms of trying to summarize it. Mankind listened to and were inspired by (or guided by, it seems to treat Guidance and Inspiration as the same thing) those in the water in the beginning, until mankind moved inland. Which they did so out of a desire to own things and not because of natural disasters or a need for food. Nope, just mankind being bastardly because they do that. Without their water-guides, they got all warlike and invented bows and arrows. Okay then.

The water-guides gave up trying to reach man but have apparently now had a radical change of heart and are sending their "young ones" to man on...birds? big giant birds? where "only a glimpse" will cause an "awakening of man". This is distressingly vague. I don't think I've ever wanted so badly to shake a narrator? BE MORE SPECIFIC, GRANDFATHER.

At least with the rusalka movie, I understood the stick-figure prologue. Shark-mermaid-ghost-women eat men after making them fall in love. EASY PEASY. This is... this is... water-girls want men to see them on birds because it'll make men awaken somehow??? I crave the easy simplicity of shark-mermaid-ghost-women. But here we are.

OH MY GOD, THE PROLOGUE IS STILL GOING. There are little furry wolves that eat the water-girls. There are laws to "keep the young ones safe" but they're "sent anyway" and many of them don't return and sjahdakhdakhdkah what is HAPPENING? Why, pray tell, is mankind supposed to crave the spiritual guidance of a race of craven water-cowards who keep sending their babies to be eaten by wolves in spite of their own laws which they don't intend to follow anyway? I am a mankind, and I want no truck with this nonsense. The lawless water-people can begone and I will pet the land-doggies.

That prologue needed a fucking editor, is what that prologue needed.

A white man does plumbing things under a sink while a family cowers blurrily in the background and yells frightened Spanish at him. He says he found a bug, and the family tells him it's a creature the Devil made. I'm not making a good face, okay. He kills the bug--I guess? God forbid we, the audience, be allowed to see what is going on--while girls scream in panic and, after, fawningly thank him. Please tell me this isn't our protagonist. Please.

I have paused the movie to ask Kissmate if he still loves me. He promises that he does. Heart swollen with apprehension, I press play again.

I guess we're stuck with this apartment superintendent as a protagonist. I guess this is happening. He introduces a new renter to the other renters and talks to a very intense pool cleaner who is upset about "nighttime swimming". I have lived in a wide variety of apartment complexes, including one that was bulldozed by the city to build a stadium on top of it. Never once did my superintendent introduce me to others, and the pool was considered "good" if the algae growth was minimal.

Everyone we meet so far appears to be a mean-spirited stereotype of, like, non-wealthy people so my back is up a little. I like that the superintendent has a stutter (so do I) but that's the only thing I like about him. One girl is a student and we only see her ass, not her face. Another guy is body-building only the right side of his body "as an experiment" so he can measure his gains against the left. It doesn't feel kind. Another resident sits with his door open and silently stares at people as they pass. One renter "takes in animals". The super explains that there's "no swimming after 7". This place has more swimming rules than my last seven apartments.

The super tries to small-talk with the new renter, who is a film critic. The film critic looks dead inside. I wonder if he had to watch the prologue too. The super goes home and falls asleep in front of the war-heavy news (you see, because mankind is war-like without the water-people) and wakes to hear gurgles in the pool. This must be investigated!

He walks around the pool tidying the chairs (you're off the clock, Bob, stop working!) and is distressed when a girl surfaces long enough to steal his keys (I think? Something shiny, anyway.) and then not resurface. Ironically, Bob ends up drowning himself after running, slipping, and falling in. He wakes up in his apartment with a naked Bryce Dallas Howard staring at him while maintaining the standard Fragile Fairy Girl pose with the knees pulled to chest.

The superintendent--who is apparently named Cleveland so I should probably start using that--asks her where she came from. "The Blue World." He thinks that's another apartment complex, which is the first clever thing so far. She asks whether he "feels an awakening". Oh god. She says her name is Story. Cleveland notices he's not stuttering around her. Oh my god, I swear if her presence "heals" him or something, I will throw my phone at the screen. Like, I stutter less when I'm relaxed, but it's treated like an instant magic change. He even says "Why am I not stuttering?"

Cleveland feels sorry for her and somehow ends up cuddling this naked girl (like, okay, she's wearing one of his shirts but it's super uncomfortable) and he's at least not being skeezy about it, but uhh this was a Choice. He asks her who she is and she sleepily mutters "narf" and there are no words, just a white mouse screaming in my head. Cleveland tries to take her outside but there are growly things in the grass. PUPPIES. Cleveland begins to inch back to the apartment but Narf Girl wakes up and helpfully starts screaming, which causes the monster puppy to race towards them because monster puppies can sense when you're scared.

Oh god, we're not even at the twenty minute mark. We're eighteen minutes in and I'm expected to root for Standard Fragile Fairy Girl #7 over a Monster Puppy because she has magical disability-healing powers. Send help. The next day, Cleveland stutters wildly while he describes the monster-puppy to the intense pool cleaner guy. Apparently the monster was made of grass. Oh, sorry, that's a cop. I thought it was the pool cleaner. He tells Cleveland it was probably a Great Dane. Back in his apartment, Narf Girl is still not wearing pants. She discovers his shower and strips down.

By the pool, Cleveland asks the college student if she knows what a "narf" is. She tells him it's an "Eastern bedtime story" her great-grandmother used to tell. I think she means East Asian and not, like, east New England. You'd expect someone to say, like, "Chinese fairytale" or something, right? Not..."Eastern"? The actress is Chinese and the character is Chinese, so...idk, maybe I'm overthinking this. It just seems odd. She also doesn't remember anything *about* the bedtime story, just the word. Which is doubly weird because usually kids remember what happens in tales over, like, the odd words that don't necessarily lodge in the memory.

Oh, wait, I think the character is Korean, not Chinese. I'm sorry. The actress is Chinese American, but the character name is, I believe, Korean and the subtitles claim she and her mother are arguing in Korean, so there we are. Young-Soon translates for her mother that a "narf" is a sea nymph, but stresses that her grandmother told the story like it was true, "like a prayer". We're told that the narf (THE NARF. I CANNOT.) must be seen by "the one human chosen for her" who is a "vessel" and a "chosen one" who needs to awaken. If she manages to awaken him, she can return on a giant eagle and "become free". What the actual fuck.

Things I like about this scene: Cleveland has removed his shoes to enter the apartment. Things I do not like about this scene: Everything else. I don't know how to grapple with the racism in this scene, except to say that it's not good for our white guy protagonist to get all this information from an East Asian woman with the implication that her culture is more ~in tune~ with ancient mystical secrets. I would guess they're trying to mitigate that by having her modern daughter not care about the myth, thus making it more of an age gap than a cultural one, but it doesn't really read like that and I'm very uncomfortable with this scene.

Oh. "She won't tell me more. She says why can't I be like my older sister. She married a dentist."

Cleveland goes back home to find the shower running and Narf Girl walking naked around his apartment. The ONLY good thing I can say about this is that Cleveland clearly isn't lusting after the girl; he seems to think she's a damaged kid in need of help. Like, ten points to the character for being a stand-up guy and not creepy. Minus eleven billion to the script for doing it this way, if that makes sense. I can appreciate a middle-aged guy not creeping on a naked girl while still hating that a middle-aged script-writer wrote the naked girl into the scene in the first place.

I mean, he's doing the bare minimum. "Story, could you put something on?" Like, he thinks this is a runaway kid! OFFER HER CLOTHES. Turn your back on her and gather up PANTS and SOCKS and stuff for her to USE. He marches into her personal space to turn off the shower water so, again, not the BEST marks for how to handle a fragile victim. Cleveland asks if someone is "supposed to see her" so he's...accepted that she IS a narf? Instead of a confused kid who knows the story? I'm just saying, if someone showed up in my apartment claiming to be Rumplestiltskin, I would at least CONSIDER that they heard the story somewhere rather than it being fact. Is it because she's white and couldn't know the Korean fairytale, in his mind?

I have paused to check, and have found comments from Korean people who state that narfs do not exist in Korean folklore, nor is the word itself Korean? So apparently MNS just made up this word and sorta...assigned it to Korea? I guess that's why it was vaguely ~Eastern~ and not Korean. *facepalm*

Narf Girl says she's here for a writer. "Do you know his name? Do you know what he looks like?" Cleveland asks. He's... just accepted!!! that she's a narf!!! based on a fragment of half-remembered fairytale from a renter!!! I don't know how to cope with this. I feel like this would work better if they'd taken the time to establish him as someone who yearned for magic and fairytales to be real. Like, I can well assume that fits him, but we didn't really establish that, so I have to make the logical leap myself.

While I'm thinking about What Might Have Been, I feel this could have worked better if we hadn't already seen her do magical things (staying underwater so long, etc.) and the monster puppies. By which I mean, there's potential here for a nice horrific undercurrent if we don't know whether she's genuinely a magical fairy girl or if she's a lost confused runaway and now this guy is encouraging her fantasies rather than getting her actual real help. A middle-aged guy who reacts to a runaway girl by letting her live semi-naked in his home while he calls her a special fairy is terrifying, so the game has been given away by establishing that he's right to do so.

Also-also, I'm grimacing at the realization that she's a literal manic pixie dream girl. Oh god.

I can't let go of this thought. If we didn't KNOW she's a fairy girl, I'd be worried about her and intrigued. But since we DO know she's a fairy girl, I don't give a damn about her quest for an eagle and, like, personal freedom because it seems too distant to be real. And, I guess, it seems weirdly self-inflicted? She has to go on a quest for her people in order to break free of the chains imposed by her people and I'm wondering if this isn't something that could be solved with better by-laws instead of questing. Idk.

Cleveland now starts amateur-sleuthing the residents to find someone who has "written recently" which... did Narf Girl say she needed someone who'd written recently? She did not! Maybe she's supposed to inspire someone to pick up a pen again after a long break! Or, like, someone has pointed out that Narf Girl could be here to inspire someone who has never written anything yet! Why is Cleveland assuming it's someone- Oh god.

Young-Soon yells to Cleveland that her mother "told me more of the story before she threw a cushion at me!" Cleveland asks her if she's writing anything. SHE'S A COLLEGE STUDENT, OF COURSE SHE'S WRITING. "Writing? No, Mr. Heep. This semester all multiple-choice courses. Young-Soon is not stupid." I want to punch something. I really hope this actress got a fat paycheck off this horrible role. Anyway, she tells Cleveland about a "bad guy in the story" called "scrunts". I guess these are the Monster Puppies.

Once again we have the really weird filming choice that we don't see Young-Soon's face when she talks. Now we just see the back of her head, instead of her ass, but it's really jarring and not done to the white renters. Just her. Back at Cleveland's house, Narf Girl is collecting everything shiny in the house so she can carry it all around in her arms like Standard Fragile Fairy Girl #7.

Cleveland passes a renter who we've never seen before and who mentions that his writing is going slow. It's- The renter is played by MNS himself, writer and director of this film. So the writer that the manic pixie dream girl has to find and inspire is... the actual director of the movie. Did... did I get that right? My secondhand embarrassment is flaring like whoa. Cleveland asks Vick what he's writing. His book--"The Cookbook"--is "just my thoughts on all our cultural problems and, like, thoughts on leaders and stuff." I'm hyperventilating.

LIKE. LOOK. I understand the frozen moment when people ask what you're working on and the need to downplay it as nothing because it's intensely vulnerable, BUT that is the- there's- no- no- no- that's- "My thoughts on our leaders and stuff" is not- I need a walk. I just. I need you all to understand? That this book is the book my father thinks he could write if he sat down with a typewriter. Like, that he would just write his thoughts on "our leaders and stuff" and people would PUBLISH and READ IT because it would be Good.

People don't read political brain meanderings from nobodies!! They read the thoughts of folks they're already interested in: famous bloggers or politicians or newscasters or celebrities or, like, tiktok artists. Not random nobodies. Why? Because opinions are like belly buttons: everyone has one. In order for yours to be interesting, it needs to be attached to an interesting person. There's not- you don't- political opinion books don't just bubble up from nothingness to fame.

I'm just- I cannot deal with the fact that this guy is my dad. I'm watching a movie about my dad meeting a manic pixie dream girl. Kissmate is handing me rum so I can deal. And he calls it The Cookbook! Does he know the Anarchist Cookbook exists? Because that's where my brain goes when someone connects "politics and leaders and stuff" with "cookbook". Is that intentional?

Cleveland returns home where Narf Girl is still not wearing pants. She's been reading his diary about the time when a home invader stole all his stuff and killed his wife and child AND, like, kicked over the Christmas tree. Those rascally home invaders. I'm sorry, I shouldn't be flippant but it's just- it's so- she mentions the stolen stuff *before* the dead family and it's stilted and he's just staring at her and she's NOT WEARING PANTS. They talk about his tragic fall from doctor to superintendent and how he feels directionless. He tells her he's found his vessel. I'm- why does he need to be a Fallen Doctor and not just a regular superintendent?

Cleveland brings Vick in to meet Narf Girl and he sees her. They have a moment and Vick rushes out "feeling a little funny". The music swells dramatically. NARF GIRL IS STILL NOT WEARING ANY PANTS. She says she can safely leave tonight now that her job is done or something, I guess, I don't care. And that Cleveland can't watch her go. He's still 100% all in on magic being real. He leaves her outside by the pool, still not wearing pants. A few minutes later she runs into the stairwell covered in scratches. Cleveland demands to know "if the eagle came" but a grass-dog breaks a window and gnashes teeth at them.

Cleveland takes Narf Girl up to Vick and his sister, who notice her pantslessness and assume Cleveland is "a player". Vick says the girl can "stay here as long as she needs to". WHY? I mean, that's very nice of him, but also WHY? Cleveland asks Vick if he's writing again. No one seems to think this is an utterly bonkers conversation to have. Cleveland runs out to go check in with Mrs. Choi and ask about narfs when they "get scratched". Young-Soon, who is at a dance club and talking to Cleveland over the phone, says "I don't know! Put my mother on the phone!" rather than telling him that she'll have this conversation some other time. I can't. I cannot.

This girl, this character, literally exists just to be his phone-line, his actual phone-line in this scene, to Ancient East Asian Mystical Knowledge. I am so- I am just- NO. BAD MOVIE. For NO DISCERNIBLE REASON, this college student confers with her mother and reports back that scrunts have poison which kills narfs but narfs can protect themselves. NEITHER mother nor daughter ask WHY he keeps asking about narfs. Like, I would assume this white asshole is planning to write an error-riddled treatise on my culture and was stealing material he didn't plan to credit. But that's just me.

Apparently there's a mud called "kii" where they live that cures them, idk. Cleveland asks how the narf can get on the eagle without being attacked by scrunts. Young-Soon is tickled by how he's "really thought about this" and finds him darling. We're now informed that only "rogue scrunts" are willing to break the law because the rest are afraid of "Tartutic" the law keepers. I'm- I want to go home. Please. Please make this bad movie leave.

"They are the law keepers in this bedtime story" like, I cannot even- How many characters and layers and twists does this "bedtime story" have because normally bedtime stories are simpler than this! Your basic bedtime story has familiarity and repetition and structure, because the point is to have something easy to memorize for oral transmission and something easy to absorb so the child isn't energized asking a million questions! This movie is trying to pass the Song of the Jabberwocky off as a normal traditional bedtime story (that also just happens to be REAL) (but which everyone just FORGOT) (for REASONS) and I am not buying it!!

Young-Soon says there are three Tartutic and that they live in the trees and are said to look like monkeys but no one knows for sure because no one who has seen them has lived. SURE. FINE. OKAY. That's a real goddamn soothing bedtime story for little Timmy. "If you look out the window and into the trees, you might see one of the monkey law keepers and IMMEDIATELY DIE. Goodnight!" Not even getting into the fact that MOST fairy tales have as a staple hugely fantastical and dangerous creatures that walk among humans in the stories because the APPEAL of these stories are in bringing the fantastical to the ordinary but NO SURE I TOTALLY BELIEVE IT. This movie was designed specifically to hurt me.

The dance club music that was plaguing Young-Soon's narration has dramatically stopped. I'm just going to quote this part. "The legend says that they were born so evil that they killed their parents on the night they were born. The fear of them has kept justice in the Blue World for centuries. Bye, Mr. Heep!" WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE. Like, literally, how does any of that correlate to "law keepers"? I feel like he was trying to do something adjacent to the Erinyes, but that's not- Cleveland is now searching for kii mud in the pool.

There's just a hole in the pool with a grate on it and now we're in Ariel's grotto of junk, as per Narf Girl's earlier compulsive collecting of shiny things. WHY IS THERE A GROTTO UNDER THE POOL. Boy, it would've been good movie writing to have foreshadowed this important scene, maybe by having all the renters complain repeatedly about missing or stolen valuables! But haha I'm not a famous movie writer!

Cleveland has now held his breath for ten minutes, so- oh, he's using a pen and a cup to recycle his own air. I laughed so hard I blew spit on my screen. Back at Cleveland's house, Young-Soon arrives to tell even more of the story. THERE'S MORE? Also: I just cannot deal with how much this young woman has no life or purpose except to be Cleveland's magical expositionary person of color. "My mother thinks of you as stranger. You have to make her see you as a child, an innocent. Then she will tell you the bedtime story."

I...I seriously think this has broken me? This one little sentence right here? Are we really going to try to convince a Korean woman that her white superintendent has the innocent soul of a child? Can we not??? I want to, like, GoFundMe a vacation for her far away from this film.

We're told that once in a generation of narfs, or every thousand narfs (I'm not sure which), there's a special narf called the Madam Narf whose narf-vessel is particularly narf-portant. Why do humans know any of this? The narfening began *after* humans moved away from the narfens and forgot their narfxistence, so how do they know the convoluted ins and outs of the narfegem? The Madam Narf's vessel "will cause change" (wow, much vague again. so helpful.) but the Madam Narf is key because she's a queen of her people and her return is really super important. So "a scrunt will do anything to kill a Madam Narf", even breaking the rules.

"Does she know she's a Madam Narf?" Cleveland asks.

"No! That is moral of a bedtime story. No one is ever told who they are." What.

Narf Girl wakes up in Vick's apartment, still not wearing pants, and apparently having been healed by mud that Cleveland found in the pool. Why can't Cleveland take her up to the roof, away from the grass doggies? Why do the scrunts know she's a Madam Narf if she doesn't know? Why are they putting all their eggs in this Tartutic basket? Why do Vick and Anna believe Cleveland that this is a fairy girl?

Narf Girl asks Vick if he wants to know his future. He nods. A boy is going to grow up in a home which has, for god knows what reason, latched onto Vick's political work as their own personal bible. The boy will "grow into a great orator" and the world will listen. So just to be REALLY CLEAR, Vick isn't going to change the world with his writings? Vick is just going to inspire some insipid American boy to change the world with Vick's writings? GOOD. GREAT. STELLAR. "Your book will be the seeds of many of his great thoughts." WOW.

In the morning, the pool is busier than I have ever seen an apartment pool in my entire life. Cleveland sits in the apartment of the Korean woman who I don't think even has a name. IMDB just lists her as "Mrs. Choi". Cleveland acts childishly inept, giving himself a milk-mustache in order to be seen as an innocent. I'm- Oh god, this is so painful to watch. Now he's lying down on their couch. I cannot look at the screen. Mrs. Choi apparently finds this charming because now Cleveland has information for Narf Girl, who is naked again. I haven't once seen her wear pants.

Cleveland repeats that the narf has to leave from the same spot, so I guess that's why they can't go to the roof, but there are "humans with powers" who are drawn to live near the vessel- no. no no no no no. We're not going to do this, are we? All the eccentric renters have magic powers to help the narf leave? Jesus, I 100% believe that MNS came up with all this over a period of years spinning tales to his daughter, it FEELS like something that built-up over time and a need to add even more STUFF. It's like a role-playing world that has existed a little too long and you look at, like, the were-panther corner of the world and it's like "well THAT feels like a late-stage addition when you needed to wring a little more story out of the framework."

I do not want to go around and re-meet all the renters only now they have magic powers, but we have an entire hour left so I guess that's what we have to do. The humans have names. "A symbolist, a guardian, and a guild." I want to ask, again, why Mrs. Choi knows these things. Why humans know these things. Narf Girl thinks Cleveland is the Guardian, so that's one down. The symbolist is supposed to interpret signs and clouds. The guild is supposed to "combine many hands to help". Oh and there's sometimes a female human called the healer who can awaken life forces. We already know that one because she collects cats and butterflies land on her.

There's- There's no tension here? There are no stakes!!! Vick is already inspired, so the future is already set in stone as far as that goes. The only stake here is whether the Narf Girl goes back to her mystery land to be queen, and I don't care about her? Her entire personality is "Fragile Nudity".

Cleveland goes to the film critic and asks him how to find the people. Within five minutes, we now have the symbolist (the cross-word guy) and the guild (the stoners), so that's everybody. Glad we didn't, uh, drag that out. The film critic is the only character in the movie who doesn't breathlessly devote their life to helping Cleveland, and he points out all the movie techniques being used (like establishing skills early on) so that's immersion breaking. Not that I was immersed anyway!

Cleveland effortlessly collects all the helpers and crowds them into the shower to meet the naked fragile girl. They notice--because what could be more important than Cleveland!!!!! their superintendent!!!--that he's not stuttering. Oh my god. The movie has just cheekily embraced that it's a movie and that nobody is acting like a real person, and I'm sorry but just because you hang a lampshade on your bad writing doesn't mean you get to revel in your bad writing like it's a clever meta choice. Smear shit on your face to make a clever artistic statement, but don't expect people to congratulate you on your new look!!

I am actually angry at how bad this movie is? This is possibly the worst movie I've ever seen? And I have seen some BAD movies. But it's so self-satisfied in its badness! Just... crowd everyone into a shower around a naked woman and they all accept that she's a magic fairy girl and their entire reason for being is to help her return to fairyland!! SURE. FINE. DEFINITELY REALISTIC.

Again, there's- you could DO something really cool here if you played up the everyday mundanity, the soul-crushing boredom, of apartment life and established a community where people are so desirous of a little bit of magic that they're willing to accept and believe. But you'd have to actually establish these people as PEOPLE who have souls being crushed and in need of joy and alleviation, and MNS didn't want to establish these people as people. They're the broadest of caricatures, they're their "jobs", they're titles! There's an actual decent story in this that COULD HAVE BEEN DONE, but WASN'T, because they were too busy having the writer-director be the Changer Of The World and everyone else is just a mindless pawn in his story, cheerfully accepting their secondary status! EVERY CHARACTER SHOULD BE THE HERO OF THEIR OWN STORY IF ONLY IN THEIR OWN MIND.

I unpause. I hear, "He's hearing the voice of God through a crossword puzzle." I pause again. I breathe deeply. I feel like someone should count the number of words Narf Girl says in this movie, because I swear it can't be more than a few dozen. Pantsless, Narf Girl uses a walkie-talkie to teach Cleveland how to see scrunts in a mirror. She still is not wearing pants. She teaches Cleveland the words to challenge the scrunt, and Kissmate points out he didn't bring a baseball bat or anything. Apparently the Guardian can hypnotize scrunts. But Cleveland can't, so he's not the Guardian. Sad trombone, I guess.

Gotta love how "empowering" this story for little girls isn't. The pantsless narf:

- doesn't know she's a queen
- can't identify her own guardians
- can't get home without help
- only exists to "inspire" a man

Like, this entire movie is about how a middle-aged man did all the heroics while the girl cowered nakedly in the shower the entire time and cried a lot. MUCH EMPOWER. And thanks to the prologue, it seems that all narfs are girls and they all exist to inspire men (the "vessels" are invariably referred to as men) so read into THAT what you will because it seems like only men can change the world and women are just inspirational.

Cleveland wakes up face-down by the pool as the Film Critic asks what he's doing. The Film Critic is shitty and unlikable because MNS doesn't like critics. I hope he's a Tartutic. Narf Girl, pantsless, cries because Cleveland isn't her guardian. She still isn't wearing any pants. Young-Soon asks why Cleveland doesn't come around and ask about narfs anymore. She sways her hips sexily as she walks away. Does she... miss his company? The renter who just stares at everyone tells Cleveland that he knows about Cleveland's family and that he can't "hide himself away here" and become a miserable shadow like him. Because no one is more important than Cleveland!!

In the course of what appears to be literally less than a day, Vick has finished his book on "politics and leaders and stuff". The book, like this movie, will apparently not be edited. Narf Girl talks to Vick while she sits nakedly in the shower. Vick tells her that he's confused how his book will be so important when it will take "decades before it anchors in the consciousness". I'm SCREAM-LAUGHING. Please name me a political book that is relevant today and exactly 10-20 years old. Not older than that and some kind of "founding" text, and not newer and based in current events. There might be a few. Vick thinks this is THE RULE, though. Like, Vick seriously thinks that political books are published and they "bubble up" over time through the public consciousness, aging like a fine wine. And I'm just- The publishing stuff is MORE fantastical than the narf stuff.


Vick correctly intuits that the only reason his book is going to be famous is because someone is going to ASSASSINATE him over the unwelcome truths in his most excellent awesome book. I'm just- I'm- hjadhajkdhadjhahhahaha. Which is AMAZING, because it means that Vick and his Book are going to be famous enough to warrant an assassination over the material, BUT the assassination is what is going to make him and his book famous. So I guess his amazing insights in The Cookbook are going to make him Super Mega Famous, but the assassination will make him Messiah Martyr Famous. And it's STILL going to take a damn kid immersed in his thoughts to change the world. Not his assassination, oh no.

Narf Girl weeps weepily at him because it is her special burden to inspire the man who will write the book that will get him killed and she weeps and she is naked as she weeps and her nakedness doesn't wear pants. Cleveland throws a pool party because having lots of people around will scare the scrunt. The Film Critic shows up in a suit and is awful, because petty grudges are more important than good characterization. Narf Girl weeps pantslessly at Cleveland in his home. "You just have to believe that this all makes sense somehow," Cleveland tells her, trying to be encouraging and accidentally writing the tagline for this movie.

Narf Girl tells him that the other narfs tease her for being clumsy, so she's Bella Swan now. "You were always meant to lead," Cleveland tells the girl who has led no one and who had her vessel brought to her by a guy who found her nakedly living in his pool. At the pool party, Cleveland puts Narf Girl in the pool so the eagle can get her. The humans form a barrier around the pool. Really not too impressed with their "powers" as advertised.

Cleveland realizes that a scrunt has gotten through the barrier--I'm not sure how--and finds Narf Girl being dragged into the grass, pantslessly. He carries her upstairs to the healer who says "Sometimes animals just look dead." LOL. The "healer" holds Narf Girl and chants "it is not time for you to go" rather than getting some alcohol for those teeny-tiny scratches on her legs.

While Narf Girl dies pantslessly, the people question whether they really are the roles they're supposed to be. They decide that the Film Critic is the villain because he assigned the wrong roles to everyone. Oh my GOD. "Who has put this young girl's life in jeopardy with his arrogance?" one of the men asks. This petty grievance against film critics is so hugely embarrassing, oh my god. I want to look away. I want to give space to this awkward weird masturbation. This is making Godzilla's grudge against film critics look even and measured.

Writing a fictional character to be wrong so that you can then be like "haha, you're WRONG" is always so cringe. It's such a common thing in evangelical literature, like LEFT BEHIND, where the author tries to win a dispute by making their opposition look foolish. "Haha, scientists/politicians/critics are wrong because I wrote them to be wrong!" just makes you look like you don't understand the difference between your real life opponents and the little fake ones you made up to play dolls with and it's just. so. cringe.

After asking "Who has put this young girl's life in jeopardy" the movie immediately cuts to the Film Critic being killed by the scrunt. God, this is so EMBARRASSING to watch. The adults decide that a small child is the interpretor or symbolist or whatever and he mumbo jumbos at them while looking at cereal boxes. The "man who has no secrets" has no secrets because his wife tells them all, in case you were wondering about the misogyny I'm wading through over here.

My mind wanders from the movie to remember that we still have no explanation for why his stutter turns off in the presence of the Narf Girl. It's just... random ableism about magic people "curing" us when they're near? In another twist I don't care about Cleveland is established as the healer. The other characters insist that butterflies have been around him, and that's kind of LIKE having filmed that happening, sure. Just retcon things as you go, movie. I would've accepted little paper-CGI butterflies like the birds in BIRDEMIC.

Cleveland used to be a doctor so you'd think he might know about neosporin or bactine for those scratches but instead he just weeps at her pantslessness. The camera stays on his face the entire time; the girl might as well not be here. He's talking about and to his dead family, oh my god. He's using a dying girl as a prop to talk to his dead family. SUCH EMPOWERMENT. A middle-aged man is holding a dying girl and instead of taking her to the hospital he's talking ABOUT HER TO HIS DEAD FAMILY and this is a HORROR MOVIE PREMISE. This entire movie is a horror movie in which a bunch of people project their fears and insecurities on a mentally ill girl who they have decided is a manic pixie dream girl and they DON'T GIVE HER PANTS OR MEDICINE because it would break their fantasy!!!

His magic made her blonde. Or the scrunt-poison did. We now have a blonde-haired blue-eyed Narf Girl Queen. Narf Girl walks down to the pool, not wearing pants. She tells Vick more about his future death. The Grass Puppy fusses at a door. Rain pours down to spite the dead Film Critic. Tension has left the building.

Tartutics show up after they're not really needed anymore. Yay, I guess? They don't look like monkeys and they don't really add anything here? Again, it could've been clever if the Film Critic had been one, but no. They just sort of feel here because MNS made them up for his kids, which is one reason why we employ editors and not pure weapons-grade nostalgia.

Kissmate has asked me to mention Reggie--the guy who exercises only one side of his body--is the surprise guardian. He's also from Planet Terror, so he's got that going for him. Blurrily, seen as if from the bottom of the pool, we see the eagle take the Narf Girl away. We don't even get proper payoff there! Artsy film tricks aren't payoff! I don't care. Credits slam into place without even a pause to process what has happened.

That was possibly the worst movie I've ever seen. I would watch VelociPastor a dozen times over before viewing Lady in the Water again. Now if you'll excuse me, Kissmate needs reassurance that I still adore him.


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