What to do while watching:
What to eat while watching:
I watched this horror flick while riding a bus from upstate New York into New York City. The sun glared in through the window, causing a yellow sheen to remain on the tiny monitor screen throughout the movie. It shifted as we went around bends, and slowly decreased as the sun rose higher. Then the sheen was replaced by a reflection of yours truly: My face right there next to Bruce Willis, et al. I was able to pull some of those funny Mystery Science Theater 3000 stunts where you touch something on the screen with your shadow or reflection. I kept flicking Bruce's head until the Mrs. made me quit it. But truth is, it was my own clowning in the picture that helped make it the fun viewing experience that it was.
The bus ride was a long one, but the seats were comfortable. The sound of the bus over the audio track playing directly in my ears did not enhance the ghostly effect of the movie, as I thought it might. When the film got boring, I was treated to some incredible landscapes out the window of the bus. The greenery of upstate New York is as breathtaking as the urbanity of New York City.
What about the movie, you say. Gosh, Gooden, why do you always take so long to get to the point? Well, simmer down, friends. This is a slow bus trip and believe me, if the destination is The Sixth Sense, our arrival will be anticlimactic. This movie is about a little boy who sees dead people and the psychiatrist that tries to help him.
The film begins with a big night at the psychiatrist's house: he has just won a prestigious award and is whooping it up with the wife. An old patient, who Willis failed to help, has broken in. The guy's freaked-out soliloquy is punctuated by his assault of Willis with a firearm.
Well, six months later, Willis somehow meets up with this boy, who apparently has the same problem as the one who assaulted him. The boy has long since stopped telling people what the real problem is since nobody believes him anyway, but after Willis slowly and carefully wins the lad's confidence, he reveals, "I see dead people." Having seen Scary Movie in the theaters, I almost laughed out loud. (Scary Movie is not a very funny movie itself, but the context of seeing this line delivered so earnestly while knowing how it has already been parodied tickled my funny bone.)
The boy goes through a lot of very disturbing experiences and finally reaches some kind of peace by asking a ghost what it wants and then carrying out its wishes. In fact, the conclusion of the movie seems to be that the boy has this dubious gift and that his life will need to be devoted to running errands for the dead. Is there any money in that?
Though Willis and the boy-actor carry their parts pretty well, the dialog is stilted, and the movie is perforated with cheesy "characterization devices." The boy's mom always says "Look at my face" when she wants to say something serious. The boy says almost exactly the same things that the crazy man who assaulted Willis said. Allow me to coin an adjective: it's "scripty."
Meanwhile, the plot is riddled with holes and ridiculous stretches of credulity. Of the latter, my favorite is the way one scene is set in a renovated mansion whose attic, it just so happens, used to be a torture chamber. Excuse me, but aren't torture chambers usually in the basement? And how did something so medieval-England come to be located in the US? Aren't dungeons typically the property of Old Europe?
The plot holes are too numerous to list, but here are a few, which won't give away too much, but maybe should:
The twist at the end of the movie is jostling enough to snap the cables of the rest of the story. I feel sure that a second viewing simply wouldn't work.
Mrs. Worsted was disappointed that the metaphysical themes stayed
so Hollywood-shallow. There are some interesting directions this could have
been taken, but really the movie was made to scare, not to enlighten. On
a bus ride from Middleton to NYC, this film is better than sleeping.
©1999 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. All rights happily reserved.