Lady in the Water Movie Poster Image

Lady in the Water



More soggy than scary. Still, not for youngsters.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Disparate apartment dwellers work together to help a nymph-like girl return to her storybook home.


Monstrous, wolflike CGIed dog (covered in grass, with red eyes and big fangs) attacks and drags off Story, and ferociously kills a character (in briefly violent images and cuts).


Story's nakedness is mostly out of frame; Anna calls Heep a "player."


Minor profanity ("ass," "damn").

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

"Slackers" in apartment complex smoke cigarettes even though it's against the rules (they keep a heaping ashtray outside their door).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the movie features a fierce dog-like creature most often indicated by shadows or red lights (his eyes). His attacks (he crashes through glass, drags off a girl, and kills a character) are rendered in quick cuts, hectic camera movements, and victims' screams. The creature is eventually ripped apart by monkey-like creatures in another dark, loud, and chaotic scene. The film includes a couple of jump scenes. A few characters smoke cigarettes.

What's the story?

Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) appears an ordinary fellow, a Philadelphia apartment complex superintendent with a bit of a stutter and shuffling gait. He knows his tenants by name, gently reminding them to follow the rules (no swimming in the pool after 7pm, no smoking in the units), but mostly keeps to himself. When someone starts making noises in the pool during the night, he feels he has to take a stand. But then he discovers the swimmer is not a tenant, but a pale girl named Story (Bryce Dallas Howard), who comes from the water (she calls it "the blue world"), and has arrived among humans in order to deliver what she terms an "awakening" to a very special human. When Story is attacked by a dangerous dog-monster called a "scrunt" (a CGIed creature who lurks in the lawn, then leaps up to rip her flesh with its big teeth), Heep assembles his tenants -- including a single father (Jeffrey Wright), a woman who loves animals (Mary Beth Hurt), a kid fond of lifting weights (Freddy Rodriguez), a philosophical slacker (Jared Harris), and a film critic named Farber (Bob Balaban) -- each with his or her own particular task to save her.

Is it any good?


More soggy than scary, LADY IN THE WATER follows a sad, inward-looking man's efforts to make sense of random violence. Much like previous protagonists in M. Night Shyamalan's movies, Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) harbors a secret and finds salvation in a generous and heroic act. Once again, this act is prodded along by otherworldly and very carefully arranged forces. This time, however, the arrangement is awkward and overexplained, as if the movie doesn't trust viewers to get it.

Heep's own reading improves throughout Lady in the Water. His earnest enthusiasm, sharp wit, and utter commitment to saving his new friend Story suggest that effective readers look beyond themselves. Writers might also take note.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Heep's dedication to figuring out the story/puzzle, as this shows his generosity as well as his need to work through his own past trauma. How does Story inspire Heep and the other tenants? How do the diverse characters work together toward a common goal? How does Story's story become everyone's?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 21, 2006
DVD/Streaming release date:December 19, 2006
Cast:Bryce Dallas Howard, M. Night Shyamalan, Paul Giamatti
Director:M. Night Shyamalan
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some frightening sequences

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Teen, 13 years old Written byrebo344 August 16, 2015

I would rather stay wet.

One and a half stars. It is just another prophecy tale that failed miserably. Paul Giamatti and Bryce Dallas Howard, James Newton Howard's score and the cinematography are the only redeeming things about the movie. If you just want to see the action at the end, you're gonna have to this bore. And yes, I would rather stay wet than watch this mess. Bob Balaban's character is pointless ,Cindy Cheung was just plain annoying and the story is stupid. Grade: D+
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written byWildAnatolian November 1, 2013

Lady in the Water

This is a very interesting and unique story that captivated me and my family very early in the film. While there is some very sad scenes and violence, it is nothing a twelve year old can't handle. There is some complex dialogue, the storyline is obvious enough that it's not too hard to follow. I personally loved this movie, with it's originality and creativity, it is a great choice for families with mature preteens.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Teen, 17 years old Written bymoviebuff6996 June 18, 2013

Silly and poorly made

Letter Grade: F “Lady in the water has some great actors in it; but the movie ultimately is silly, slow paced, uninteresting, poorly directing and the twist at the end isn’t good either”. -I didn't like it at all.:(
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence