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M. Night Shyamalan

An Indian American filmmaker and screenwriter.

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Introducing The M Night Shyamalan Drinking Game

  • Aug 12, 2010

When Vanilla Ice warned us in 1990 that "I'm killin your brain like a poisonous mushroom", he also gently reminded us that "Anything less that the best is a felony", which was not so much a curt Supreme Court ruling as a premonition that the cinematic omen of M Night Shyamalan was just a few short years away. 

In fact, Ice wasn't the first person to forewarn the coming of the end of storytelling - Coleridge wrote in 1797 in Kubla Khan, "Beware! Beware! His flashing yes, his floating hair". Little did Ice or Coleridge realize the gravity of their prediction, and by 1999 a Writer/Director/Actor/Producer arrived on the scene with a level of plot maturity that would make Miss South Carolina sound like the lovechild of Carl Sagan and Albert Einstein.

Prior to us reaching the good part of all this - the drinking game - it behooves us to review M's rap sheet, and while I should warn "there be spoilers ahead" you actually do need a storyline to be in danger of spoiling anything.

The Sixth Sense: admittedly a stopped clock is right twice a day, and this little Hitchcock-ian thriller caught everyone by surprise. Not least by resuscitating Bruce Willis' career ("Yippee-ki-yay!") and introducing a likeable brat that we needed to replace Macaulay Culkin after he became a teenager, and before Haley would let us all down with that DUI and pot possession charge, and "I see dead people" became "I don't see stop signs".

"I see dead people" - but it's the live ones with police badges that'll get ya, chessnut.

Signs: talking of stop signs, Night decided to take our wallets to the theater one more time in 2002. The hint was in the tagline: "It's Not Like They Didn't Warn Us" - lots of short, staccato little capitalized words hovering over our Mastercards. Signs is guilty of what screenwriting guru Blake Snyder calls "Double Mumbo Jumbo" (DMJ) - you can't have two far-fetched ideas in the same film (e.g. aliens and zombie dinosaurs meet vampires). The whole film is a set-up for an ending that demands you go to the bathroom before it happens ("Swing away Merrill!") because personally - and I haven't admitted this anyone before - I almost sharted myself laughing.

The ending of signs, counter to my initial instincts that the movie would never end.

Unbreakable: the capital crime of Unbreakable, right from the start, was to never show us the train crash. Arguably the best part of The Fugitive was the THX-powered disaster at the beginning, and very quickly in Unbreakable I realized the only train-wreck I was going to witness was M Night's credibility. DMJ is in full flow here, and yet it's the only one of his films that I actually find depressing.

The Unbearable ending. Samuel L Jackson: "I sick of these motherf***ing lines in this motherf***ing script!"

The Village: apparently one of France's favorite films - bizarrely a fact uttered by M himself in defense of this morceau de merde puante - it looks like the recycled film set of Sleepy Hollow mixed with a bit of post 9/11 psycho-analysis and William Hurt, who must have been kidnapped at the local Fresh Choice and forced to act. And if my French earlier was flawed, it's only because I'm taking a leaf out of M's writing class and not checking what I write. Ever.

The alternate ending they should have had in The Village. Luckily the village was nowhere near an airport.

--- Intermission -- Time to take a freebie shot because it's about to get ugly ---

Lady in The Water: Ron Howard obviously didn't warn his daughter about keeping away from people called M Night Shyamalan. The amazing thing about LITW is that having a main character called "Cleveland Heap" was not the worst thing about the film. It reminds me of why Charlie the Unicorn is so funny, in the way it's clever to introduce all sorts of monsters like narfs, scrunts and devil monkeys in the absence of anyone giving a shit. Plot-wise, apart from the lady, the water, and an eagle, Paul Giamatti plays Paul Giamatti as an actor needing to pay his rent. Blake Snyder's must have got a migraine when he saw this.

Somewhere between the Harry Potter bookflap and a backed up toilet.

The Happening: more optimistically, Nothing Happening. Here M achieves the High Holy Piss-Pot for Pixel-land Poop by combining himself with Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel and creating a world-ending trinity of such mediocrity that even the Fifth Element herself couldn't save us. The tagline people thought they were extremely witty with "We've Sensed It. We've Seen The Signs. Now... It's Happening". I didn't think it were possible to hate a director more than George Lucas for introducing that f***ing a**hole Jar Jar Binks into my childhood memories, but - wow - The Happening actually made me want to hurt someone, so I instead went home, made waffles and cried myself to sleep.

Genuinely the only good thing to come out of The Happening

Rant on - since this is truly a despicable flick that shows utter contempt for its audience, and treats movie goers like bloodsacks attached to money clips. The plot - hah, I said it - has something to do with plants wanting to kill the human race, so Marky Mark spends the whole movie running through fields (obviously) and talking to plastic plants (no kidding). It's a two hour snuff video of suicide and murder, punctuated by occasional pointless brutality, with an ending that doesn't require the hero to do anything whatsoever. The ending, by the way - the plants just stop killing everyone for no reason, but as a twist they start killing people in France, probably because they like The Village so much.

The Last Airbender: send your donations to me via PayPal if you seriously want to me to check it out. $1,000 should cover a ticket, a Diet Coke and 5 hours of therapy.

----- THE DRINKING GAME (finally, thank God) -----

Crack open a beer when:
  • One of the principal stars has a meltdown in real life (x2 for Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix).
  • A line of dialog sounds like a film school homework assignment that will get an F.
  • A major star appears who should really know better. Or fire their agent.

Take a shot whenever:
  • The color red is used artistically, like M is trying get all Schindler's List on us.
  • Water is used as a central element in the film.
  • A line of dialog is so ludicrous you'd like it as a ringtone, or at least see it turned into a Eurotrash rap.
  • M cameos in a movie, Hitchcock spins in his urn and you start to notice he's somewhere between an Indian Barry Manilow and that guy who narrates in Heroes about doing his father's research.

The Iced Vodka Statue ("The Spirit of Christ Compels You!"):
  • You think you might go and see his next film either out of morbid curiosity or because you think The Sixth Sense can't just be a one-hit wonder like Ben Affleck and Good Will Hunting.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope you have a strong tolerance for alcohol. Finally, to quote Weird Al Yankovic, “I think the studios should give M. Night Shyamalan just 30 or 40 more chances to make another good movie – then THAT’S IT.”
Scientists have yet to find a cure to this film. Yes, you do.

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October 23, 2010
Funny and sad. I never even liked THE SIXTH SENSE that much because I guessed the ending no more than 10 minutes into the flick. Loved this review, but of course you do know that both Shyamalan and the guy on Heroes are Indian, right?
October 23, 2010
I think if you guessed the trick in the Sixth Sense, it would come across as a very pedestrian film. It doesn't stand up to multiple viewings because once you know the gimmick, it doesn't really work. Now the question is: could Barry Manilow be Indian?
October 23, 2010
A very boring film once you know what it's all about. As for Barry Manilow--I would like to think he isn't as all pervasive as you believe him to be. =)
October 24, 2010
"The Manilow", as he's known in security circles, may well be everywhere. Or I've seen too much Rubikon.
October 25, 2010
If the former is true, then our worst fears have been realized.
October 26, 2010
Worse the seeing clowns when you open the freezer.
October 26, 2010
August 16, 2010
Shymalan hit a high note but I think that may be as far as he can possibly get. I did like his earlier films even up till "Signs" and then it all went downhill for me after that. Highly entertaining write up, James! You notice that you were this week's Member Spotlight?
August 16, 2010
Thanks - and yes it was great being on the Member Spotlight! I'll obviously have to start churning out more reviews. :-)
August 14, 2010
Damn, I'd be more loaded then, well anything ever. When your movie comes out the same week as a Twilight movie and TWILIGHT is seen as the superior movie, I agree-GET A NEW JOB. When I saw The Expendables today, I swear when the new movie trailer by this guy aired, I heard at least 3 people say "again? please"
August 15, 2010
Very, very true. I'm actually surprised they even put his name in the trailer, since it caused a general groan across the theater.
August 15, 2010
I remember a lot of people by the time The Village came out guessing what the twist ending was going to be, which I came across in a round about way-and it reminded me of a popular Pro Wrestling script writer, Vince Russo. He loved booking swerve shows where something unexpected happened that confused and surprised people. Some would say the swerve would be when no swerve happened. If MNS wants to surprise people, no more swerves and twist endings.
August 13, 2010
I know all this... yet I'm still curious about his latest trailer for Devil. Why can't I learn from my mistakes?!?!

August 13, 2010
You and everybody else, TeamAWAC. Perhaps it's encouraging that he's one writing credit on this movie and he's managed to find a director (well, two) that can .... wait, what am I talking about? It's Shyamalan for God's sake! He's like the Kirkland Signature of film-making but without the quality, dependability and class.
August 13, 2010
oh my EFFING god (and or Deity of choice) that was the single funniest review on one of the top 5 worst movie directors of all time!
August 13, 2010
Thanks! I only came up with the idea because I found Signs in our DVD collection and had to throw holy water over everything.
August 12, 2010
LOL, omg James, I'm seriously cracking up over here!  I've only ever seen one M. Night Shyamalan movie, The Village, and I actually liked it, but other than that, I just keep hearing people diss a lot of his other movies and reenact parts of it mockingly, ("I see dead people" anyone?).  I guess I'll have to find out for myself with the aid of your genius drinking game ;D
August 13, 2010
You've actually missed the worst of this decade then - I envy you. He may end up directing Twilight: The Cartoon Series. It's possible. More importantly, let's start drinking, yay!
August 13, 2010
PattyP, you are wise. It took me until the fifth Police Academy to realize it wasn't going to get any better.
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James Beswick ()
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About this director


Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan (born 6 August 1970), known professionally as M. Night Shyamalan, is an Indian American filmmaker and screenwriter  who resides and works primarily in the United States, known for making movies with contemporary supernatural plots that climax with a twist ending. He is also known for filming his movies (and staging his plots) in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was raised. Shyamalan released his first film, Praying with Anger, in 1992 while he was a New York University student. His second movie, the major feature film Wide Awake, made in 1996 but not released until three years later, failed to find financial success.

Shyamalan gained international recognition when he wrote and directed 1999's The Sixth Sense, which was a commercial success and nominated for six Academy Awards, including: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. He followed The Sixth Sense by writing and directing Unbreakable, released in 2000, which received mixed reviews. His 2002 film Signs, where he also played Ray Reddy, gained both critical and financial success, but The Village (2004) was a critical disappointment whose box office fell hard after a strong opening weekend, and Lady in the Water (2006) performed even worse. The film The Happening (2008) did financially better than his previous effort but was also panned by critics. His latest film, The Last Airbender (2010) has also received overwhelmingly negative reviews from ...
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