The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep

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Posted December 27, 2007 in Film

Jay Russell’s precious, predictable yarn about a lonely tyke who hatches the Loch Ness monster isn’t going to sell many stuffed animals. The creature, here dubbed Crusoe only because the named sounds really, really cute when said by a freckled Scottish kid, is at birth as unhuggable as a leather boot, and grows to be a repellent mash up of Shrek, a seal, and the long-necked tribal women of Burma. And his personality is worse. Yet, poor Angus (Alex Etel, secretly of Manchester) is so glum about his dad’s deployment to fight the Nazis and his mom’s (Samantha Morton, slumming) harried parenting that he loves his Crusoe regardless and will ensure the jumpy Scottish troops don’t mistake him for a German submarine. (Spoiler alert—they do!).  In truth, sightings of Crusoe/Nessie stretch back 1,400 more years to the 7th century AD writings of St. Columba, who not just battled the sea monster, but also killed a wild boar just by praying at it. Yet in a moronic framing device, Angus, now old and played by the much less adorably-freckled Brian Cox, has managed to find the only two people in Scotland who haven’t ever heard of the monster—American tourists, naturally—and sets about telling them of it in the film’s twee dialect that’s seemingly inspired by Yoda. “A true tale it is!” he chirps. With the hoary old boy-finds-creature, boy-hides-creature, boy-loses-creature, boy-rescues-and-is-rescued-by-creature plot making it possible to fall asleep for large stretches of the film, yet still be able to lay out exactly what happened, the only reasons to stay awake are the nature porn shots of the Highlands impossibly green hills and gray skies, and a nimble bit performance by a bulldog named Churchill. (Amy Nicholson)


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