MAGIC IN THE WATER is a boring Oreo cookie commercial billed as a
feature-length movie for kids. We have the dad, Jack Black (Mark
Harmon), forcing himself against his will to spent four weeks in the
wilderness with his children, fourteen-year-old Joshua (Joshua Jackson)
and 10 year old Ashley (Sarah Liscette Wayne). To make up for lost
time at work he carries four cellular phones. At least two of them
ring in all the early scenes and the running joke is where is his lost
cellular phone. Nearly split my side I was laughing so hard at that
long series of jokes.
The whole script by Icel Massey and Rick Stevenson is firmly based
in boredom with a little stupidity and cliches thrown in every now and
then for variety. Among one of the many typical lines is Joshua's who
describes his camping goals as "I'm doing the man thing here. Study
death in the face. Stuff like that." Don't you wish you had children
The premise of the movie is a recycling of the Loch Ness monster
tale. Dr. Wanda Bell (Harley Jane Kozak) plays a psychologist who
counsels a group of men who have seen the monster, Orky, and have
thereby done a mind meld with him and become docile lunatics. The
therapy sessions are a direct rip off from that equally awful movie,
COLOR OF NIGHT, staring Bruce Willis. If you are going to copy, copy
the worse I guess.
Orky, whose diet is almost exclusively the insides of Oreo
cookies, is arguably the most pathetic recent example of special
effects. The effect is anything but special. In the water he is a
small toy that you could buy for fifty cents. Out of the water only
his head moves, and his head looks like a piece of blubber which moves
like molasses. Too bad this movie was not made as a parody.
Mark Harmon can do serial killers, and he should stick to what he
knows. Harley Jane Kozak has had small parts in many other movies.
She may want to rethink her acting career after she sees her
performance here. And last, but not least, what did first time
director, Rick Stevenson, think he was doing? Did he realize how bad
it was? Why didn't the other producers (Tony Allard and Matthew
O'Connor) stop him?
There is a medicine man that wanders through some of the scenes at
random. Sometimes there is talk of a toxic waste dump. The writers
seem to throw in a little bit of everything in the hopes that something
will work. They even have the dad try to dig a hole to China in his
yard - now that's original. Although MAGIC IN THE WATER is ridiculous,
it still manages to scare the kids needlessly in some of the scenes.
Finally, the ending is an unstructured mess. Surprise. Surprise.
MAGIC IN THE WATER meanders along at 1:38 due to sloppy editing
(Allan Lee). It is rated PG for a few frightening scenes and a little
profanity. I recommend one mile as a safe distance, i.e., I recommend
that neither you nor any of your family get within one mile of this
movie. If dying of boredom was possible, this movie would be lethal.
I do not give it any stars. Avoid it at all costs.
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes