Rated: PG Reviewed by: Frank Release date: August 30, 1995 Released by: Columbia TriStar
Magic in the Water doesn't live up to expectations but there are some bright spots.
The advertising shows little Ashley Black (Sarah Wayne) sitting on the head of Orky, a giant water dragon in the middle of a mist covered lake. That scene is symbolic of the mystical communion of Ashley and Orky, but it is not in the film. That might have become a classic scene. That omission by Director Rick Stevenson depicts what is missing and could have been for this family oriented film.
Sarah, her brother Joshua (Joshua Jackson), and her father (Mark Harmon), who is divorced from his wife, take a vacation at the lake. It's one of those catch up vacations for a father and his kids. Dad, even though he is a psychiatrist, has a work ethic and the child-ignoring attitude of an ambitious stock trader.
Quickly after arriving, Ashley gets a message from the monster in the lake. She awakes hearing noise, she sees water in the lake bubble in unusual ways and the Oreo cookies she leaves on the dock are missing the creamy centers in the morning. She is the only one who is convinced Orky is real. When Ashley is in danger Orky seizes her father and pushes him through the water to save her. From that point, the father is affected by a strange mental disease from which a number of men in town suffer. He is also a lot more fun for the kids to be with. One of his eccentric projects is to dig a hole in the beach all the way to China. When he spots a young Asian boy climbing out of the hole (the kid fell in) he begins to think his hole has succeeded.
The story is laced with Indian legend, a few bad guys, hidden caves, a gorgeous night sky, a giant friendly monster, lake pollution, Oreo cookies and a marvelous performance by Sara Wayne.
The elements are there but never come together to reach their potential. Too bad, it might have been special.
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