Lady in the Water has its origins in a bedtime story director M. Night Shyamalan made up for this kids. If this the kind of bedtime story he tells, I bet his kids have some freaky dreams. I also bet those dreams are a heck of a lot more intriguing than the film their dad made from the tale he wove for them.

Paul Giamatti (who could read the LA phone book for 90 minutes on-screen and make it look good) plays the unfortunately named Cleveland Heep, a man who is trying to quietly hide away from life as the stuttering superintendent of The Cove, an average apartment building. As the film opens, Cleveland is welcoming a new tenant, literature and film critic Harry Farber (Bob Balaban). Now, logic might tell you that the bit you're going to open the film with should have some relevance to the actual plot and outcome of the tale, but in this case, the inclusion of this character is little more than a gratuitous bitchslap to the critics who have panned Shyamalan's last few films. Practically every word Balaban is forced to utter is a cliche of the snooty film critic (not that there aren't snooty film critics who are like that, it's just that in this case, the character is non-essential to the storyline other than ultimately serving as the obligatory redshirt). And I don't think it's that all those critics have no sense of self-deprecating humor; this character is just so shallowly drawn and blatantly placed that it reflects more on Shyamalan's self-indulgence than on the critics he's panning.