random reviews, recollections & reminiscings

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

DVD REVIEW: The Lake House (2006) *

The Lake House (2006) poster





PG for some language and a disturbing image.
1 hr. 38 min.
written by: David Auburn (screenplay), Jina Yeoh & Eun-Jeong Kim
produced by: Doug Davison & Roy Lee
directed by: Alejandro Agresti
Take two mediocre actors who rarely take risks anymore and give them a lame remake script and see if the sparks fly. Well, they don't fly, they don't even spark. You gotta be an obsessive fan of both Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves to like this film, let alone stay awake through it. Someone thought that because these two were in 1994's "Speed" that they had chemistry. Wrong! If ya can't guess the ending of this film in the first 15 minutes than ya must have been distracted by the paint chips peeling off yer wall. Ya just can't find an intelligent time-spanning romance anymore. This movie made me long for Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. It's too bad this is a remake of the Korean film 2000's "Il Mare" cuz it woulda been better if this tepid romance had any association to any previous film.
On a winter morning in 2006, Dr. Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) is moving out of a beautiful lake house (built outta glass resting on stilts right on the lake. Kinda cool) for a job at a Chicago hospital.. She leaves a note for the next tenant asking them to forward her mail to her new address. She writes about the paw prints on the front path and the box in the attic. Off she goes to her new city flat.
The lake house in Warner Bros. Pictures' The Lake House
A young architect named Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) is the new tenant of the lake house, who's working construction of a new complex of houses at the city outskirts. Alex finds the lake house kinda rundown with no paw prints to be found. After reading Kate's letter, he forgets about what he read until a coupla days later when a stray dog runs across the freshly painted front path, leaving paw prints where Kate's letter said they'd be. Cue the X-Files theme music. He writes her back and places his letter in the mailbox and the two of them eventually discover that they are separated in time by two years, with him being in 2004. Regardless of how absurd this seems, the two continue their time-crossing correspondence via magic lake house mailbox.
In between all their handwriting bondage, we see them go through the motions of their separate lives.
Kate is getting acclimated to long hospital hours at the fictitious Chicago City Hospital. Her lead doctor there Dr. Klyczynski (Shohreh Aghdashloo), shows her the ropes as she tries to befriend Kate. This friendship is shown when she tries to comfort Kate after she fails to save the life of "some guy" getting smacked by a bus on her lunch break at Daley Plaza. Back in 2004, we see that Alex has a estranged relationship with his father, Simon Wyler (Christopher Plummer) a famous architect. These characters are there to hopefully flesh out the characters of Kate and Alex but honestly these actors are so much more interesting that I almost wish it was these older actors falling in love. With Aghdashloo's sexy voice and Plummer's stoic charisma that mighta been something. But, alas we're stuck with mopey (Kate) and mopier (Alex).
They start to build a relationship thru mail (while I start to gag, sorry) and it would seem they are trying to convince the viewer that they are falling for each other. Ugh. Could they ever meet each other? Ever? Now, since Kate is in the future she can tell Alex where to find her in her past and his present. Kate comes up with a plan that may hopefully bring them together. She tells Alex that she left a gift for her father (a paperback of Jane Austen's "Persuasion") at the Metra Riverside train stop where she was meeting her then lover, Morgan (a wasted Dylan Walsh). She asks Alex to go there and retrieve this gift and somehow find away to return it to her in the future. I'd tell her to go suck a rock. Guess what? Alex finds the paperback and briefly sees long-haired Kate look out the window of her departing train. Sucker! So, now he has this book but he doesn't put it in their magical mailbox. Nope. He tells her that he will find away to return it to her in person. Aw....
So, how do they hook up? Well, in 2004, that stray dog that happened to belong to both of them (poor dog) was hanging with Alex on his construction site and runs away from him as his desperate co-worker Mona (Lynn Collins) tries to make some moves on clueless Keanu. They follow the dog to a house that Morgan happens to live in (I gotta thank that dog for propelling the plot, cuz so far this is one dragged-out snoozer) and for some reason he invites them to a birthday party for Kate. At the party, Alex introduces himself to past-Kate since he's been corresponding with in the future-Kate. The two wind up with a dance and a lip-smacking rendezvous outside the party, witnessed by Morgan and Mona. Busted.
Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves
 in Warner Bros. Pictures' The Lake House
Determined to bridge the distance between them at last and unravel the mystery behind their extraordinary connection, they tempt fate by arranging to meet. After a failed attempt at a date at a phony, fancy restaurant at Millennium Park called Il Mare, (wonder where they got that title from?) in 2006, Kate retreats, believing she will never have happiness. <sniffle> She urges Alex to move on. Do they eventually meet up? Yeah? Does that bus incident at Daley Plaza come back into the story. Uh huh. Is this a predictable sap-fest of a movie? You betcha.

Reeves and Bullock are a lovey-dovey duo with the kind of low-key chemistry that doesn't depend on anything but witty, unnatural banter. Instead, they just happen to go together. They were better together via magic mail box. I'm not really a fan of either actor but since the movie was filmed in Chicago (I saw them filming it. See pic below) and it had two decent supporting actors in Aghdashloo & Plummer, I thought I'd give the disc a spin. I never saw the original and this movie made me lose any interest in doing so and that's too bad cuz it just has to be better than this.

I'll give credit to European director Alejandro Agresti and Director of Photography, Alar Kivilo for at least making the film look good. But, then again that's cuz they chose a great city to film in. Yes, one of the better stars of this movie is Chicago. There's a certain calm and vibrance in the city that attempts to revive the film. Sadly, that isn't enough. This movie is unfortunately a decent Lifetime movie at it's best. If you and you're significant other are home sick and this happens to be on TV, check it out as you both check out. What the heck was Ebert sniffin'?

I was hoping that someone involved in this film woulda started out these special features with a formal apology but no luck for me. Sigh. Instead, there's 5 deleted scenes. You bet I watched all of them in an effort to redeem the last sucky two hours. Not a chance. These deleted scenes were on the cutting room floor for a reason. Watched separately or all-together, they don't mean much to the final cut of the film, though one outtake is cute. There's a decent theatrical trailer which is better than the movie. In the future, if there's a special edition with Reeves and Bullock doing a commentary, I'd watch it again just to hear them explain their way outta this mess.


The Skinny:
  • You cannot drive a pick-up truck or anything larger on Lake Shore Drive! But, don't tell that to Keanu Reeves or any filmmakers for that matter. For some reason, filmmakers always seem to make this same mistake. I've seen it in "National Lampoon's Vacation" and in "My Best Friend's Wedding."
  • John Cusack was the first choice for the role of Alex Wyler, but he declined. Drat!
  • Sandra Bullock revealed in an Entertainment Weekly interview that the title house had running water but no toilets.
  • The name of the exclusive restaurant in the film is "Il Mare". "Il Mare" is also the name of the house and the International title of the Korean film upon which "The Lake House" is based, 2000's "Siworae" (2000).
  • The construction site that Reeves' character is working on is real. It is owned by Pulte Homes and is the Madison Park Community in Aurora, Illinois.
  • First movie to be released simultaneously on DVD, HDDVD, and Blu Ray. How unworthy.
  • This isn't the first film shot in Chicago by Reeves and Bullock. Reeves made "Chain Reaction" , "Hardball" and "The Watcher" here and Bullock made "While You Were Sleeping" here.
  • Bullock states that she felt compelled to name the dog "Jack" which was Keanu Reeves' character in "Speed" - the first movie the two of them made together.
  • The building that Bullock's character lives in is 1620 Racine. That is the same address of the house of Sean Connery in 1987's "The Untouchables" in Chicago. Wherein, his character, Malone died screaming like a stuck Irish pig.



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