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PENNIES FROM KEVIN - Snow White's Less Scary Adventures

After Disney's first big box office opener, plans are in the works to get some Village action into the parks...

Written by Kevin Baxter
Published: August 10, 2004 at 7:08 PM

Rumors have it Disney is finally caving in to parental pressure regarding their "scary" Snow White ride. Like the current wussifying of the Alien Encounter in the Magic Kingdom into a less scary Stitch attraction, Disney may rehab one of the least popular Fantasyland attractions into a lesss scary ride, based on The Village.

Instead of going to live with the Seven Dwarfs, Snow White will instead find herself in Covington Woods where things certainly won't be as scary as Evil Stepmothers. Very little will actually change inside the ride, as current Audio-Animatronics will simply be cloaked in either yellow or red cloaks, depending on their goodness. Also, Disney will

Okay, this is Kevin's alternate personality. Like most alternate personalities, I was created during a time of crisis for Kevin, namely when he sat through an entire showing of Any Given Sunday. I have taken over during other extreme situations, recent examples being Little Black Book, this season of Last Comic Standing and any time Jessica Simpson tries to release a new song.

I also took over during The Village. About ten minutes into it when Kevin figured out what the big "twist" was going to be. He cried out, "Oh my gawd!" and I immediately rescued him.

Lucky him! This movie not only has a really bad final "twist" but early reports bragged about it having THREE twists. Whatever. The first "twist" - hereafter referred to as The Elders' Secret - is actually tied to the final "twist" - After the Wall - and ends up being a double-edged sword. If you figure out The Elders' Secret first, chances are you will figure out After the Wall. If you figure out After the Wall first, which is extremely likely, then The Elders' Secret is a snap. The third "twist" - The Bottom of the Well - is barely a "twist" at all.

The main reason it isn't much of a "twist" is because it lasts all of three scenes, and they actually give the biggest hint ever given right before the final scene. Considering there are only two setpieces in the entire film with any type of suspense whatsoever, it's ridiculous that one of these scenes is so short and the surprise is given away so amateurishly. In fact, After the Wall's surprise is given away in a seriously clunky scene right before, robbing the scene of what little it had to offer. And this was the scene that was reshot, though Shyamalan arrogantly refuses to admit this.

I think it's that arrogance that kept Shyamalan from putting proper effort into this script. Anyone with any history viewing The Twilight Zone television series will figure out the ending here. While some Shyamalan apologists will insist the film is more than just its ending, I would have to say, What a bunch of crap! From its opening scenes, the entire movie is clearly leading up to a big twist. Even if Shyamalan didn't direct this, you would still know a twist was coming because everyone in it is hiding something and that all these secrets are leading up to something.

Shyamalan could have overcome the horrid finale by making the rest of the movie sparkle. Like he did in the goofy alien-filled finale of Signs. The dumb crap involving his dying wife's message from God didn't matter all that much since the film was filled with interesting three-dimensional characters and a few edge-of-your-seat setpieces.

What does The Village offer? The most interesting main character disappears halfway through. The other, Bryce Dallas Howard's blind character, is good, but her relentless bravery drains the movie of much-needed dread. The other characters are either under-drawn, like Sigourney Weaver's and the Elders, or overdone, like those played by Adrien Brody and William Hurt.

Even worse, excellent opportunities to expand on the theme are ignored. It doesn't take a genius to realize this movie deals, not in plot but theme, to post-9/11 fears. Red is bad, yellow is safe, to point out an obvious example. But this whole idea of living in fear is never really addressed at length, which is lame since there seems to be more to fear in Covington Woods than there is outside it. (I could also bitch in detail about how the outrageous hypocrisy of the Elders is ignored, but that gets a little too close to being a spoiler.)

Okay, I had to find some unsly way to incorporate this into a theme park column, but I absolutely needed a forum to complain! And to warn Kevin's dear readers from seeing this movie! Do I blame Disney? Not at all. Making three moneymakers certainly grants Shyamalan protection from studio intervention, something Disney is notorious for. But someone should have gotten involved at the script stage. Ain't It Cool News got a hold of the script when it was still called The Woods and ripped it to shreds. (Almost all of that script became The Village.) Thankfully, Shyamalan's next project is rumored to be a non-suspense film which he won't write. The Sixth Sense was a stellar script, but one Shyamalan probably worked on for years until a studio would allow him to direct it. Given less time - and too many articles that have swelled his head to epic proportions - and Shyamalan's writing talents have certainly eroded. Okay, back to Kevin...

Then again, the ride isn't a certainty. The Village, in its second week, barely outperformed The Bourne Supremacy in its third week. So it might not make it much past Unbreakable. The only thing I can see for such a drop would be bad word of mouth, but I can't understand why there would be any of that...

My two pennies... Gimme yours!

Readers' Opinions

From Joe Lane on August 10, 2004 at 10:16 PM
My Two Cents? Save your money for Collateral.

Wait, wait, wait, wait... The Village ISN'T the worst movie in history (Gigli? The Cat In The Hat? Catwoman?). Compared to Night's previous films, however, The Village seems to slightly miss the mark. And the twist was far too early in the film.

In conclusion, the vast majority of the scum of the Earth leaves replies on the Ain't It Cool News talk back section... whoa, that came out from left field, didn't it?

From Kevin Baxter on August 10, 2004 at 11:56 PM
But so true! Hell, some of the staff of AICN ain't that bragworthy either. Though the guy who reviewed the script totally NAILED it in his movie review.

The movie wasn't the worst ever. But it WAS the worst I have seen this year. And Little Black Book was pretty wretched. As was Starsky & Hutch. And I doubt I will see one worse for quite a while. Dreadful.

From Chuck Campbell on August 11, 2004 at 8:45 AM
I also guessed what was going on in "Sixth Sense" about 15 minutes into it, but it didin't detract from my enjoyment of the movie; I'd seen enough "Twilight Zone" to figure it out.

Granted, "The Village" isn't the director's best (that would be "Unbreakable"), but I think it is a bit underrated.

From Jeffery Beal on August 11, 2004 at 6:55 PM
Kevin,

Here are my two cents:

The Sixth Sense was an excellent movie.

Signs a very good movie, but the ending does not do justice to the masterful buildup.

The Village. I agree with Chuck. My wife and I saw it and we did not think it was that bad. Not great, but not bad either. However, don't get me started about Night's supposed commentary on post 9/11 policies through the use of symbolism in the movie.

From Chuck Campbell on August 11, 2004 at 7:14 PM
I'm not so sure that Shymalan "fails to address the hypocrisy of the elders." Yellow may be "good," but it's also the color traditionally associated with cowardice (to make another obvious point). I think this flick is more a "fairy tale" about the lies parents tell their children to keep them "safe." (So, I really appreciated your "Snow White's Scary Adventures" set up, Kevin.) Are their kids truly safe in the Village--the ultimate gated community? The funeral at the beginning (and other events) would indicate "no." This is a cold movie in more ways than one.

I think the biggest problem that the critics had in writing about this movie is frustration over the alleged "surprise" ending that they weren't supposed to discuss. ("The ending we shall not speak of," you might say.) It's pretty difficult to discuss themes without disclosing the "surprise."

I go back and forth on this flick, which is more than I can say about any other movie I've seen this summer.

From steve lee on August 11, 2004 at 9:22 PM
Actually, Kevin, I think one of the three "twists" was the mere fact that the main character does disappear midway through. Very Psycho-esque.

Oh, and for anyone who hasn't seen it - the Blind Girl is killing everyone. There, I saved you nine bucks.

From Kevin Baxter on August 12, 2004 at 12:53 AM
If that were true, that would have been AWESOME!

I say, if you are going to spend that long to reveal a surprise, then the surprise better be worth it. The Twilight Zone had a lot of goofyass surprises over its run, but you only had to wait 20 minutes for them, not two freakin' hours!

Stoopid ending or no, this was still presented as a suspense movie. Yet it had very little. The part leading up to The Bottom of the Well could have been easily expanded to several scenes. A little more cat-and-mouse with the blind girl would have certainly added suspense. And less Joaquin droning on to the Elders and more hiding in the basement action.

The whole thing was irritatingly inept for someone who has shown mostly skill before this.

From Chuck Campbell on August 12, 2004 at 5:00 AM
I agree with you to a point, Kevin--this would've been more effective as a one-hour "Twilight Zone" episode, and it is a bit repetitive. Selling it as a thriller was a mistake, and Shymalan shares the blame with Disney here; still, trying to sell it as an "allegory of our times" would've killed the first week's box office, too.

But I do think it has some interesting layers, even if it is Shymalan's weakest movie.

From Robert OGrosky on August 12, 2004 at 3:16 PM
I enjoyed this movie as i have enjoyed all of his other movies.
Its usual that when someone is succesfull like shamaylan has been that others will go after him, release his scripts etc. in a attempt to attack him. one of the downsides of our current culture.
From Kevin Baxter on August 13, 2004 at 1:31 AM
Oh, get over it, Robert. AICN tries to get a hold of EVERY script before the movie is made. And exactly what does that have to do with how crappy a script it was? Did their getting hold of it suddenly make it crappy? This thing was tested before it was released and it did poorly enough that Shyamalan had to film a new ending. Disney's marketing of the film has shown that they knew they had a dog on their hands and were trying to get as much out of it in its first two weeks because they knew it wouldn't have legs.

I also don't understand this current trend of having to like every single thing about a person. Just because his last three movies were various degrees of good. (BTW, Sixth Sense was not his first film - that honor would belong to the awesome Praying with Anger - and that was followed by Wide Awake which had Rosie O'Donnell in it. 'Nuff said!) I haven't seen Unbreakable all the way through, but if it is good, then I see him batting .500. That doesn't give him any free passes.

From Robert OGrosky on August 13, 2004 at 11:24 AM
I havent seen the first two movies that you mentioned(and i sure that it is good i havent seen them), but i really enjoyed The Village and dont consider it a big dropoff from Signs. His mistake was not getting a star of the quality of Willis/Gibson to be in the movie.
And i dont care if it shamalyan or any other director involved it is assine to attempt to get movie scripts and release them before a movie is made.
From Jayson Myers on August 14, 2004 at 6:59 AM
Would someone please share the first ending with me that was changed?

william4192@yahoo.com (or provide a link, thanks)

From Christina Alexis on August 15, 2004 at 11:33 AM
The Village has to be the worst Shamaylan flick to date, theres no question about that.The only thing that makes the film actually WORTH watching is (of course) Adrian Brody's performance. Even though, the Village was crappy. Nobody can deny it. The story seemed pointless, the laungage the cast spoke was really weird (a mix with modern and old), and the acting was mostly just so so. I figure Shamaylan should put more effort into DIRECTING, not into writing.

As for the notion of changing SWSA into a "village" flick, go for it. As if it will make SWSA any more "scary". Gawd, it'll make it more like a
"creepy" little red riding hood with the capes.

From Kevin Baxter on August 16, 2004 at 2:28 AM
Jayson, the twist wasn't changed. Apparently the scene After the Wall was longer and had more people in it. The guy on AICN said it used a mildly racist remark for a bit of comedy that totally didn't go over well in test screenings.

As for getting a hold of scripts... I'm all for it. Had AICN gotten the script BEFORE he started filming it, he might have fixed the script or filmed something else. Hollywood films rely heavily on buzz, so knowing scripts will be seen before movies are released SHOULD make the scripts better. At least in theory. Besides, unless a script is touched solely by the writer and director, or the writer/director, then it has already been seen by dozens and dozens of people and word does get out.

Not that it mattered anyhow. The Village is fading fast. It's already fallen below The Bourne Supremacy and it has a lower per-screen average than Manchurian Candidate. Except for the insane total for Day after Tomorrow, audiences have been pretty accurate this summer. Now THAT'S a shocker!

From Kevin Baxter on August 29, 2004 at 2:07 PM
I am shocked how fast The Village died! Barely limped past the $100M mark. It was made fairly cheap, though, so they won't lose money on it, but to have your best movie of the year be a mere $100M when five or six hit that mark last year at this point is pathetic.

Anyone wanting scares they didn't get from The Village should stay FAR from Open Water. That thing is AWFUL. It's not a good sign when you PRAY one of the main characters will get eaten.

From Jason Lester on August 31, 2004 at 7:47 PM
Okay, I know I might get some heat, but I enjoyed The Village. The pros were Bryce Dallas Howard and Joaquin Phoenix. Another pro was the first hour. After that it got silly, but I still came out satisfied. It may not have been the best M. Night movie, but it tried to be and that's good enough.
From Kevin Baxter on September 1, 2004 at 12:27 AM
We just saw Open Water and we actually booed at the end, which I never do, and it was still better than The Spillage of My Lunch! Though barely. After Dawn of the Dead there has been NOTHING for those of us who like a little scare. Well, most of the comics on Last Comic Standing were pretty scary, but they were more of a creeping dread.
From Anthony Murphy on September 1, 2004 at 1:12 PM
I don't know what you all are taliking about with the Village. I read that everybody said they figured it out in the first 10 minutes. Well I went to see it a second time and pretended like I have never seen it before in my life. Again, there was no way to put two and two together that they were in present day. I thought the movie was very good, good angles, good music, and good suspense. Though the ending was a bit more of a AHA, I felt that it was a pretty good movie.
From Ben Mills on September 1, 2004 at 2:09 PM
Well, I kinda liked The Village. It certainly wasn't a Sixth Sense or Unbreakable by any means, but I thought the first hour was shaping up to be a pretty good movie.

But I've gotta side with Kevin on the predictability of the "twist". What with all the build up of how "evil" the towns were, it was pretty obvious that Shyamalan was gonna turn round and point the finger. In fact, you didn't really even need to see the film to guess the truth. Seeing the trailer and hearing people talk about the 9/11 overtones was enough for me, anyway.

Coincidentally, did anyone think that Shyamalan's little guest appearance was totally egotistic and unnecessary? It just made him look like he thought he was some sort of God or something. Kinda like Where's Wally?


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