Lady in the Water: PASS


More Silly Symphonies: PICK


The Complete Pluto Vol. 2: PICK


Your Host, Walt Disney: PICK


The Mickey Mouse Club Featuring the Hardy Boys: PICK


Content advisory:

Lady in the Water: Some scary images; implied nudity. Teens & up. Walt Disney Treasures: Animated segments may include slapstick violence and some dated elements including racial stereotyping, tobacco use, etc. The Mickey Mouse Club Featuring the Hardy Boys contains mild violence and suspense. Fine family viewing.

New on DVD, M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water is the latest and lamest in a descending string of disappointments from the one-time wunderkind who rocked popular culture in 1999 with his instant-classic ghost story The Sixth Sense. Starring Paul Giamatti as a sad-sack apartment superintendent and Dallas Bryce Howard as a mysterious young woman who shows up in the swimming pool, the film posits an impenetrable mythology of goofily named beings (Narfs, Scrunts) as well as a passel of archetypes (the Vessel, the Guardian).

Shyamalan gleefully upends predictions, but fails to generate any sense of revelation, insight or even mild surprise. He simply replaces one arbitrary, unconvincing and uninteresting set of conclusions with another.

Lady in the Water wants you to believe that, if I don’t like this movie, it’s because I’m not willing to accept it simply, like a child. Wrong. Give me Babe or Bambi, and I’m 6 years old. I’m hardly too jaded to accept a nymph in a swimming pool, if only Shyamalan had any idea what to do with her. Was The Sixth Sense a fluke? The reality may be more complicated. Shyamalan seems creatively paralyzed, twisted in knots by his own legacy and aspirations of legendary status.

Also new on DVD, the acclaimed Walt Disney Treasures series continues with four new releases of generally never-before-available gems from the Disney vaults. With More Silly Symphonies, the second and final collection of Disney’s acclaimed musical series, the full “Silly Symphonies” library is now available. Noted for its experimental animation and creative freedom, the series allowed animators to escape the formula requirements of gag cartoons and explore the potential of their medium.

Disney’s Fantasia, a Vatican list film, is an only occasionally silly symphonic masterpiece that takes the lessons learned from the series to a magnificent crescendo. (Compare the “Hell’s Bells” and “Goddess of Spring” symphonies to Fantasia’s “Night on Bald Mountain.”)

The Complete Pluto, Vol. 2 continues the misadventures of that oddity in the classic Disney lineup, Pluto — a genuinely doggy dog in a world of anthropomorphic mice, ducks and even other dogs (Goofy). Curiously, despite his subordinate zoological status, Pluto was in some ways more interesting than Mickey Mouse, both anatomically and psychologically better thought-out and more grounded in the real world.

Your Host, Walt Disney presents a half dozen episodes of Uncle Walt’s long-running variety show, known by almost a half dozen titles including “Walt Disney Presents” and “The Wonderful World of Disney.” Episodes include behind-the-scenes peeks at Disney animation and live-action productions, with appearances by Guy Williams (“Zorro”), Fess Parker (“Davy Crockett”) and Annette Funicello.

The Mickey Mouse Club Featuring The Hardy Boys presents “The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure,” the first of “The Mickey Mouse Club”‘s two serialized Hardy Boys adventures starring Tim Considine and Tommy Kirk.