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Movie Review: Signs

Story: Bring on the crop circles, the worm holes, the extra-terrestrials, the creepy crawly stuff - I just love it all. Unfortunately, writer, producer, director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable) did not scare me at all with this flick.

He has borrowed heavily from other films and that made me chuckle quite a bit - but I am not sure he meant for that to happen. There were, of course, some homage's to the master, Alfred Hitchcock. I recognized images used in The Birds, but also bits of The Wizard of Oz and The Natural were thrown in as well.

The story simply revolves around a Pennsylvania farm family who discover crop circles in their corn fields. It turns out these circles are appearing all over the earth at the same time. Shyamalan isolates what could have been an immense global tale to just this family and their surrounding acres. The good news is that there is a nice exchange between comedy breaking the obvious tension and also Shyamalan works very well with kids. However, there are not just holes in the plot - there are chasms.

Writer Shyamalan tries to handle the heavy topic of faith. He narrows it down to you either have it...or you don't. If you go to see this summer breeze, don't expect to get answers to the questions of the cosmos.

Acting: Mel Gibson is such a large personality I found it hard to believe anything bad was going to happen while he was on the screen (and he is on the screen for 98% of the film). So, for a scary movie, I found I was not scared at all. Gibson plays that loving, fatherly type guy he always plays when he is not playing the shoot 'em up, save everybody, Mel. Joaquin Phoenix is a very interesting fellow to watch on screen. I always enjoy his performances. Director Shyamalan has given himself a rather large role in this film. I think he should stay behind the camera. The little girl, played by Abigail Breslin, was adorable and then there is Rory Culkin (The Good Son, You Can Count on Me) as the asthmatic youngster. He was very fine, as always. But I ask, just how many Culkins are really out there? Is there no end to this cinematic family? They just seem to be popping up everywhere...just like the crop circles.

Critters: Two German Shepherds who do not fare very well

Food: Corn as high as an elephant's eye (yet no one seems to eat any), mashed potatoes, spaghetti, French toast, cheeseburgers and chicken.

Visual Art: Some Grant Wood type paintings and children's art -- as I read the end credits I noticed that Shyamalan's kid did the art work.

Blatant Product Placement: Tylenol and the US Army.

Soundtrack: Unobtrusive - could very easily have been over the top in a semi-scary type film like this one.

Opening Titles: Graphically and musically very interesting.

Theater Audience: Five other's plus me (not a good sign for hopes of a boffo box office).

Sappy Factor: 3

Squirm Scale: 3 (I do not like when animals are harmed and I HATE knives as weapons). Although - I was very happy that there were no guns used in this film.

Predictability Level: High

Oscar Worthy: No.

Nit Picking: I am not an ageist but...I had a very hard time believing that Mel Gibson was Joaquin Phoenix's older brother. Playing his father would have been more in line with reality. Only in Hollywood could Mel Gibson play a role that was more suited for a much younger actor.

Big Screen or Rental: Oh, go for the summer enjoyment on the big screen. But for some other Joaquin Phoenix films you could rent: The Yards, Gladiator, Quills, Clay Pigeons and the most wonderful, To Die For.

Length: 1:50 minutes.

LOBO HOWLS: 5