Lady in the Water

  • Review Date: December 18, 2006
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

Common Sense Media says

More soggy than scary. Still, not for youngsters.
  • Review Date: December 18, 2006
  • 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.

Parents say

Kids say

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 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

This review of Lady in the Water was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 16 years old Written bymoviemogul 2.0;... April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

This is another great movie from my good man Shyamalan

OK, I've been hearing a lot of complaints about the movie, and it seems like the biggest one is that either people think the plot is silly, or that they can't buy into it. I think the reason this problem arose is because most people don't realize that this movie is supposed to be more of a modern-day fairy tale than a suspense movie. Actually, Shyamalan based this movie on a bed-time story that he told his kids and recently published into a kids book. So if you go looking for suspense, then of course you aren't going to like the movie. Personally, I loved the movie and am going to buy it when it comes out to put with the rest of his films. But just in case my theory is wrong, I feel that I should inform you that I am probably one of Shyamalan's biggest fans. And not just the kind that like "Sixth Sense" and all-- I'm probably one of the only teen fans that know he actually came out with two movies before "Sense"-- "Praying With Anger" in 1992, which was an American-Indian coming of age story, and "Wide Awake", which was about a ten year old looking for prrof of GOD's existence. Both of those I liked, especially "Awake". And the fact that I also loved "Unbreakable"-- well this gives you an idea if you were wondering why I gave the movie 5 stars. Content-wise, there really isn't anything to be worried about other than some very mild profanity and some mild violence involving the scrunt. So please, go see this in the mood for a good fantasy story, rather than a suspense movie. If you want suspense, go watch "The Ring", because none of Shyamalan's movies are remotely scary, but they are quite excellent films.
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

A timeless fairytale comes to life...

M.Night Shyamalan's film, Lady in the Water, in an interesting plot and enjoyable characters, told of a lost sea nymph and how simple everyday neighbors became involved in something more, something told only in a fairytale.
Adult Written bytlynn April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

M.Night does it again!!

This movie got the shaft by critics. My husband and I and our 12 year old son went together and all of us enjoyed it. I was weeping at the end which was very touching for those of us who have suffered a loss of a loved one. We found it intriging because of the "mystery" of the lady and the unusual camera angles and unpredictable dialogue. Have always enjoyed M.Night's movies. Maybe we are biased because of that. This movie is very much worth your time if you like art (something different than your average hollywood formula) in movie form.


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