Dave's Rating:

2.5

… convoluted, weird and silly.

Who's in It: Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Bob Balaban, Jeffrey Wright, Sarita Choudhury, Freddy Rodriguez, Bill Irwin, Jared Harris

The Basics: When the water sprites meet the janitors, who knows what wacky high-jinks they'll get mixed up in? No one does. It's supposed to be spooky, but it's actually just kind of convoluted, weird and silly. But that never hurt anyone.

What's the Deal? You know what I like? Kooks. I like crazy-minded people who get handed millions of dollars to make the movie that they want, no matter how re-donk-ulous the end product will be. Did you see Freddy Got Fingered? Now that's what I'm talking about, and that's what's happening here. Someone gave director M. Night Shyamalan the title "auteur," a very long leash and lots of dough. And this is the movie he made. It's not good, but at least it's never not fascinatingly odd. Give me this over by-the-numbers stuff any day.

OK, I Think It's Kind of Cheating to Put Scary Monsters in the Woods Again Just Because No One Bought It When You Tried It in Your Last Movie: And he does that (sort of). But you can't keep saying "boo!" to someone and hope that they finally get scared. That's all I'm saying.

Who's Actually Good: Paul Giamatti, who's always earning his paycheck, no matter what deranged job he gets hired for. And Christopher Doyle, the cinematographer I like best. He makes it all pretty.

Dedicated To: The director's kids. Apparently, it began as a bedtime story he made up for them — the kind where you just keep adding weirder and weirder stuff without any regard for whether or not it makes sense.

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