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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Sixth Sense (1999)

#2 - 1999 Box Office: Gross $293,506,292

Not every gift is a blessing
Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is an accomplished child psychologist who, with his wife Anna (Olivia Williams), is confronted by Vincent (Donnie Wahlberg), an ex-patient who has broken into their home one night.  Vincent blames Malcolm for never helping him and proceeds to shoot Malcolm in the stomach and then kill himself.  Months later, Malcolm begins to work with Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osmont), a shy and fearful 6-year-old living with his single mother, Lynn (Toni Collette).  At first, Cole doesn't trust Malcolm but soon confides in him, telling him he has the ability to see dead people.  Malcolm believes Cole to be delusional, however notices a lot of similar tendencies between Cole and Vincent.  He decides to do everything he can to help Cole in an effort to make up for his tragic failure with Vincent.  His devotion to Cole causes a chasm to grow between him and his wife, however.  She starts taking anti-depressants, rarely talks to Malcolm and starts flirting with a coworker.  Meanwhile, Malcolm starts to believe Cole's visions might be real and encourages him to listen to the spirits who might just be looking for help.  Will Malcolm's suggestion help Cole deal with his terrifying visions?  Will he be able to help Cole where he couldn't with Vincent?  Will he be able to move on and mend the relationship with his wife?

Trivia (mostly courtesy of the IMDb)
  • Grossed $26.6 million in its opening weekend and spent five weeks as the #1 film at the U.S. box office
  • The movie was rented by 80 million people in 2000 - making it the year's top-rated tape and DVD title
  • One of only three horror films to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture; the other two were The Exorcist and Best Picture winner The Silence of the Lambs
  • Willis is left-handed but he learned how to write right-handed so that viewers wouldn't notice that his wedding band was no longer on his hand in close ups of his writing
  • Donnie Wahlberg lost 43 pounds to achieve his character's emaciated look
  • The color red is intentionally absent from most of the film, being used prominently in shots where the real world has been tainted by "the other world"
  • The voice on the tape of Vincent's session is speaking Spanish; the person is saying: "Please, I don't want to die Lord, save me, save me."
  • Opened on M. Night Shyamalan's 29th birthday
I see dead people...
M. Night Shyamalan became an international sensation with this film. Its shocking ending created a kind of wildfire of ticket sales that helped propel this film to #2 for the year (second only to the behemoth that was Episode I).  The movie proceeded to do well on DVD and everyone seemed to adore Shyamalan for his direction and clever writing.  I've never been the kind of person to penalize a film because I spotted the twist on my first viewing—I just try to enjoy the ride the writer & director create for me.  But even after you know the twist, this film holds up extremely well.  As Shyamalan made more movies, most people started to lose interest in him but I remained a Shyamalan apologist (up to a point). I went back and watched his little-seen first film Wide Awake about a boy searching for God after his grandfather's death (4 stars). A year after Sixth Sense came out, he released Unbreakable, an unconventional comic book movie which I never thought had much of a "twist" ending (4.5 stars).  Then he released Signs, an alien sci-fi film that focuses on family rather than effects (4 stars).  In The Village, he introduced us to the beautiful and talented Bryce Dallas Howard, and despite criticism over its ending, I enjoyed the story and acting throughout (4 stars).  I think Lady in the Water marks the spot where most fans gave up on Shyamalan, but I've watched it multiple times and loved the bedtime story he created each and every time (Howard's presence again doesn't hurt either - 4.5 stars).  Then came The Crappening.  I admit, I have yet to see this a second time, but man was I disappointed when I saw it in theaters.  The acting was worse than wooden and the writing was horrible—even the presence of beautiful Zooey Deschanel couldn't bring this above (1.5 stars).  Last year's The Last Airbender wasn't horribly written (although given the amazing source material, it definitely was a disappointment), but his direction of the actors was mediocre at best (2.5 stars).  Even if his last two films were disappointing, I still argue that he's made some great movies, none better than this one.

Ponch's Rating:

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