Stir of Echoes

Bomb Rating: 

Had Tom's wife been a practical woman, she would have gotten him on a state road crew and made a mint while Tom worked out his little problem.

Were I to assume they were prescient in predicting the box-office success of "The Sixth Sense," I might actually be able say something positive about the people who made this film. However, it's more likely that -- similar to the "Deep Impact" / "Armageddon" fiasco, among numerous others -- writer-director David ("The Trigger Effect") Koepp's ego was expanding at a rate to put the Big Bang to shame, and the notion of dropping this redundant project never crossed his little mind.

Most elements of the two stories are identical. Although he's not as central to the plot as Haley Joel Osment, Zachary David Cope, who plays young Jake, can also see the dead. Apparently, this is an easy device for Hollywood writers to employ: Audiences will buy the notion that little kids, yet to attain the faculties to discriminate between those things reasonable people believe in and those things people whose brains are riddled with mold believe in, can be links to the worlds of the dead.

Naturally, little Jake turns out to be the wisest person in the film. He's like the sage old crone in Westerns whom the Indians continually mine for such nuggets of wisdom as "never wipe ass with live porcupine." Similarly, Jake tells Dad -- working-class schmoe Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) -- "Don't be afraid," which is a hard thing to do when dead chicks are appearing next to you on the couch.

Tom has his wife's (Kathryn Erbe) sister, Lisa (Illeana Douglas) to thank for these episodes, after she hypnotizes him at a party. This causes general bouts of freaking out followed by long hours of shoveling, because Tom gets the sign from the afterlife to dig. Had Tom's wife been a practical woman, she would have gotten him on a state road crew and made a mint while Tom worked out his little problem. However, "Stir of Echoes" proffers one of those stereotypical scenarios where the believers save the world and the skeptics look like drooling idiots. All I have to say is this: If our fate truly rests with the kind of gullible nimrods prone to gathering en masse around a potato shaped vaguely like the head of the Virgin Mary, we're in serious trouble.

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