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June 16, 2006 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | June 16, 2006 |

Way back in 1996, when college students used Pine to access their e-mail and Webcrawler was still the search engine du jour, I worked at my university library (in what would be the second of six jobs in which I’ve worked with Mr. Fox). As “weekend supervisor,” I had the run of the place, which meant I was allowed to leave the books to the work-study students while I cavorted with coeds in the library carrels. Unfortunately, on one of those many days that I abandoned my desk to wander the campus, I left myself logged into my Internet account. A friend and co-worker of mine, who may or may not have known the torture he’d inflict on me in the years to come, took advantage of that open account, and posted a message into the bulletin board, under my name, suggesting that I liked being rocked to sleep and that I was looking for an “experienced male” who knew “how to change diapers like a midwife.”

Thanks to Garrett, many years later — out in the dating world — I frequently approached first dates with the kind of fear that Stephen Glass or Jayson Blair might have approached a call into their editor’s office, terrified that the post — which still floats around on the Internets today — would reveal me to be a Huggies fetishist. I basically had two options on these dates: 1) Assume the girl in question had seen the post (or would at a later time), and awkwardly try to explain that a misguided pal had posted it under my name many years prior, while she nodded and asked for the check, or 2) hope against all hope that she was a die-hard technophobe and would never discover my supposed fondness for baby diapers.

Clearly, if I had had the good fortune to date The Lake House’s Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock), I’d have never been presented with such a dilemma. Indeed, when you live in 2006 and miraculously fall in love with a man who still lives in 2004, apparently it would never occur to you to conduct a routine Google search to find out where the goddamn love of your life is living today. I’m all too willing to look past the whole “drop a postcard into Dr. Emmett Brown’s mailbox” premise, but if you’re going to rip off Frequency and cross it with motherfucking You’ve Got Mail, the least you could do is login to your AOL account and conduct a little background research to find out if Ted Logan is living a floor up above you now.

But then again, I suppose if Hollywood scriptwriters (or in this case, South Korean scribes) abided by the rules of logic and common sense, then we’d never be treated to pointless bullshit romantic sci-fi films like The Lake House, in which the only moments of amusement come when Keanu Reeves is asked to sneeze or cry onscreen — two actions that look remarkably similar when Neo is trying to sell his dramatic talents. Granted, I’ve been a fan of Reeves since he provided unheard-of levels of unintentional comedy in Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing, but Keanu’s talents do not run toward weepers, where his tears look about as natural as Ashlee Simpson’s new nose, and whatever chemistry he shared with Sandra Bullock in Speed was clearly eradicated when that bus fell below 55 miles an hour.

For those of you oblivious enough to time-travel formulas not to piece together the entire plot structure from a 30-second trailer, I’d suggest you stop reading here, lest I blow your mind with spoilers that would be obvious to even your average intellectually-impaired fan of Sandra Bullock flicks (and can you believe she’s been given the role of Harper Lee in this fall’s Infamous?).

The Lake House, adapted from the 2001 South Korean motion picture Siworae, tracks Alex Wyler (Reeves), who, in 2004, has just moved into a dilapidated structure designed by his father. There, he discovers a letter purportedly from the previous tenant asking him to forward her mail along, only he soon discovers that his previous tenant is actually a doctor, Kate, who is moving out of the lake house in 2006. Strangely, despite having relocated to a condo in Chicago, Kate continues to return to this mailbox out in the middle of nowhere to correspond with Alex, one of the many tiny illogicalities that nag at even the most patient moviegoer. Obviously, instead of alerting NASA to the time-traveling effects of this mailbox, Alex and Kate use this vessel to exchange 10th-grade pleasantries, like how much Kate “loves the smell of her dog’s paw.”

Without the assistance of Google, Alex also inadvertently runs into the 2004 Kate, whom he discovers has a boyfriend (Dylan Walsh), which doesn’t stop him from making the moves on her while we are all treated to an insipid tune off Carole King’s Tapestry album. Nevertheless, Alex doesn’t apprise Kate of the mailbox situation; but he does eventually set into motion the events that would put her in the lake house so that she might later leave the letter that put them together in the first place. (Seriously, Marty McFly would jump all over his ass for that.)

Meanwhile, the two also agree to meet in 2006, only Alex doesn’t show up. Why? Cold feet? No. Because he’s dead, people — a plot point that is shared with us within the first few minutes of the movie, so long as you are able to recognize the back of Keanu Reeve’s head after he’s been sideswiped by a bus. Knowing this, the rest of the film is almost a foregone conclusion. Will Kate discover that the man she is in love with is the very same fella that she painstakingly tried to revive from death only a few months prior? Will she ruin their “one chance” at meeting in order to save his life? And, more importantly, whatever happened to Dogstar, the only band that has ever earnestly failed at replicating the grunge sound?

I dunno, folks; even for those of you who feel that paying $10 for a movie ticket also means putting aside your critical faculties for a couple of hours, I’d have a difficult time believing that you could be won over by The Lake House. It may be one of the few movies that manages to be both completely obvious and outright unbelievable at the same time, and even Sandy — who I begrudgingly admit has some big-screen appeal — can’t sell platitudes straight out of a 10-year-old’s Father’s Day card. But the real travesty is that The Lake House was written by David Auburn, who has turned the credibility he built with his Pulitzer-Prize winning play, Proof, into a gig where is compelled to ask Keanu Reeves to convincingly deliver the following line without appending an ironic “Woah!”:

“She’s more real to me than anything I’ve ever known.”

And to that, I don’t even know what to say.

Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives in a blue house with his wife in a hippy colony/college town in upstate New York. You may email him, or leave a comment below.

Do Not Try to Bend the Spoon

The Lake House / Dustin Rowles

Film | June 16, 2006 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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