The Village

Release Date: July 30, 2004

Joaquin won't rest until the whole world is painted putrid green.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
9/92 David Mumpower A shocking yet subtle attack on a currently trendy political philosophy.
47/55 Reagen Sulewski This probably would have made one of the best Outer Limits episodes ever but as a movie it doesn't hold together. The buzz on Bryce Howard is legit.
64/126 Kim Hollis Bryce Dallas Howard is remarkable, but the film is probably Shyamalan's weakest effort to date.

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M. Night Shyamalan's movies tend to inspire loud rantings from serious movie fans in general, and BOP staffers in particular. There are some misguided people who feel that Shyamalan is an overrated Hitchcock wannabe who is too reliant on gratuitous tricky camera angles and gimmicky plot twists. Other less insane people enjoy his visual style and storytelling and appreciate his ability to get great performances out of his actors. In any event, The Woods is Disney and Night's third feature film since the phenomenally successful thriller The Sixth Sense spawned a legion of dreadful "I see dead people" jokes. Home town booster Shyamalan has once again filmed in the area around Philadelphia.

The plot is shrouded in the usual secrecy, but the meager details contained in the promotional materials suggest that the movie centers on a small Pennsylvania farming community in the late 1890s. The woods surrounding the titular village apparently house a "mythical race of creatures" of at least a vaguely frightening nature. However, at this point, we don't know if they are of (a) the friendly, cross-dressing, life lesson-teaching E.T. variety, (b) the deceptively cute, but suddenly vicious "We've gotta get out of here before they kill Guy" variety or (c) the "scary ass, back to fuck with Sigourney Weaver one more time" Alien variety. (Yes, I realize those are all aliens, not earth-bound mythical creatures, but work with me here, people. Don't make me resort to some cheap "Always after me Lucky Charms" leprechaun joke.)

This project was originally set to star Kirsten Dunst, favorite of horny nerd boys everywhere, and Ashton Kutcher, favorite of pea-brained teen stoners and a very small segment of really hot over-40 female action stars everywhere. However, Dunst dropped out early on, reportedly because she wanted to start in Cameron Crowe's romantic comedy Elizabethtown. Since the ubiquitous Kutcher is now also slated to star in Elizabethtown [editor's note: Not anymore, as now Kutcher is out of both projects--BWAHAHAHAHA!]), we assume that he is out of The Woods, too. Although given all the other projects he's currently attached to, maybe he's planning to use the Continuum Transfunctioner to bend the laws of time and space.

Dunst was replaced by newcomer Bryce Dallas Howard, who is making her feature film debut in a credited role (although technically, she previously appeared in father Ron Howard's How the Grinch Stole Christmas, giving a touching and nuanced performance as "Surprised Who"). After his successful collaboration with Night in Signs, the talented, but increasingly unhealthy looking Joaquin Phoenix has signed for another tour of duty. (Joaquin, my man, take a good look at your buddy Vince Vaughn these days and see what happens when you let "Have a drink on me" become your personal mantra. It's not pretty.) Oscar-winning Berry-mangler Adrien Brody has also recently signed, possibly stepping into Kutcher's old role (talk about trading up with that casting). Rounding out the cast is the previously mentioned Sigourney Weaver and the perpetually imperious-looking William Hurt. (Calvin Trager/BOP)

August 27, 2003 Judy Greer has been added to the cast as Bryce Howard's older sister. Greer is probably best known as the skinny blonde coffee shop waitress that Nicholas Cage fantasizes about in Adaptation (or, if you are a connaisseur of schlocky teen movies, you'd recognize her as Fern from the Rose McGowan murdering teen vehicle, Jawbreaker).

Jayne Atkinson, a Broadway actress best known to moviegoers for her turn in Free Willie and Free Willie 2 ("Now with twice the Willies!"), has been cast as William Hurts' wife. You know she's just praying that there are no love scenes. (Jennifer Turnock/BOP)

October 14, 2003
The title has now been changed to The Village. No word as to who is scheduled to play the cop, the Indian chief or the construction worker.

So just to fill in the remaining plot details, the basic gist of the historical relationship between the people of the village and the creatures in the woods seems to have pretty much been "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." So long as the villagers stay out of the woods, the not so mythical creatures will stay out of the village. (Wait, haven't we seen this set up in a million different sitcoms?--ie, bickering roommates Felix and Oscar get into a big blowout and one of them gets the bright idea to paint a line down the middle of the apartment so that they each have their own half of the place all to themselves. Wacky consequences ensue when Oscar discovers that the front door/bathroom/meth lab is on Felix's half.)

Anyway, Joaquin plays a dreamy, rebellious young villager who begins to question the wisdom of the village elder's isolationist policies, particularly when a bunch of grisy animal corpses start popping up around the outskirts of town. Howard and Greer play sisters who both have a bit of a crush on Joaquin, but instead of a hot Amish threesome, Joaquin ends up embroiled a jealous double love triangle with the girls and the mentally challenged Adrien Brody character. (*snork* Perhaps that original Ashton Kutcher casting was more inspired than we thought.) As all this Dawson's Creek drama is going on, the creatures are getting more and more aggressive and the villagers show signs of going all Shirley Jackson on whoever may have done something to bring this misfortune upon their peaceful community. (Jennifer Turnock/BOP)

Vital statistics for The Village
Main Cast Joaquin Phoenix, Bryce Dallas Howard
Supporting Cast William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Adrien Brody, Judy Greer, Jayne Atkinson
Director M. Night Shyamalan
Screenwriter M. Night Shyamalan
Distributor Walt Disney Pictures
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating PG-13
Running Time 108 minutes
Screen Count 3,730
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture

Comparison films for The Village
Adjusted Opening
Total BO
Adjusted Total
Signs 8/2/0260.12 62.50 3264 18418.00 18418.0 227.97 237.02 3.79
Unbreakable 11/22/0030.33 33.93 2708 11202.00 12054.1 94.92 106.18 3.13
Sixth Sense, The 8/6/9926.68 31.79 2161 12346.00 14095.8 293.50 349.76 11.00



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