Time is running out for a happy ending.M. Night Shyamalan
writes and directs this self-proclaimed, grown-up "bedtime story" about an apartment building superintendent named Cleveland (Paul Giamatti) who discovers a magical sea-nymph named Story (Bryce Dallas Howard) who's been transported to this world and is living in the building's own swimming pool. As this bizarre revelation sinks in, Cleveland becomes enraptured by her other-worldly charm. As he shelters her in his apartment, other inhabitants of the building begin falling into place as representations of characters from an Eastern myth in which these mermaids, or "narfs," co-exist unhappily with more beastly and violent characters. In human reality, the forces of darkness that threaten the heroes of a fairy tale prove to be much more terrifying, and the victory of good over evil is by no means guaranteed. Jeffery Wright, Jared Harris and Mary Beth Hurt co-star, as well as Shyamalan himself, playing the visionary writer Vick
This movie contains examples of:
- Shrinking Violet: Story has a timid nature.
- Straw Critic: The critic exists to give the "no originality" spiel and get killed because he thinks he's Seen It All.
- Roger Ebert noted in his review that the critic is proven to be right, and that Heep misinterpreted everything.
- Take That, Critics!: The critic, whose demise is a thinly-veiled Take That against people who don't like Shyamalan's movies. This badly backfired on Shyamalan, for obvious reasons.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Once the characters catch onto the catch that they're in a fairy tale, they assume they know he roles they should play. They're wrong.