Monday, May 3, 2021

The Water Man Review: A Family-Friendly Serious Adventure

Rosario Dawson		 Maria Bello	Maria Bello		 Alfred Molina	Alfred Molina		 David Oyelowo	David Oyelowo	...	Amos Boone Amiah Miller	Amiah Miller	...	Jo Lonnie Chavis	Lonnie Chavis	...	Gunner Ted Rooney	Ted Rooney	...	Edward Schaal Holden Goyette	Holden Goyette	...	Animated Boy Ella Rose Parks	Ella Rose Parks	...	Extra Adam Dunlap	Adam Dunlap	...	Jake Williams John Henry Whitaker	John Henry Whitaker	...	Chuck Peter James DeLuca	Peter James DeLuca	...	Drowned Man Daniel Vasic	Daniel Vasic	...	Sheriff Kyle Stoltz	Kyle Stoltz	...	Deputy Chel White	Chel White	...	Animated undertaker

Release date: May 7, 2021
Running time: 82 minutes
Directed By: David Oyelowo
Written By: Emma Needell
Starring: David Oyelowo (Selma), Rosario Dawson (Seven Pounds), Lonnie Chavis (“This Is Us”), Amiah Miller (War for the Planet of the Apes), Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2), and Maria Bello ("NCIS")

Gunner (Chavis) sets out on a quest to save his ill mother (Dawson) by searching for a mythic figure who possesses the secret to immortality, the Water Man. After enlisting the help of a mysterious local girl, Jo (Miller), they journey together into the remote Wild Horse forest -- but the deeper they venture, the stranger and more dangerous the forest becomes. Their only hope for rescue is Gunner’s father (Oyelowo), who will stop at nothing to find them and in the process will discover who his son really is.

Kenny Powell	...	Drowned Man Mark Lavell	Mark Lavell	...	Funeral Guest Brianne Huggins	Brianne Huggins	...	Sarah Schall Ella Parks	Ella Parks	...	Featured Extra Muriel Kenniston	Muriel Kenniston	...	Drowning Victim Jack Lanning	Jack Lanning	...	Boy #2 Shann Ihde	Shann Ihde	...	Park Ranger Jeremy Moore	Jeremy Moore	...	Deputy Levinson Mike D Harris	Mike D Harris	...	Cemetery Mourner (uncredited)
The Water Man deals with a young black family trying to overcome family stresses.  This family feels authentic, built on love but having flaws.  It is not an idyllic, picture perfect family, but one that has scars that occasionally reopen and make the family stronger for it.  The film is directed by and stars Oyelowo, who does a great job in this film as a caring but overworked, and sometimes overwhelmed, father.  But the real star of the film is young Lonnie Chavis who plays Gunner, a brilliant, artistic, and inquisitive youth who is on the border of where childlike wonder meets the loss of innocence due to real world issues.  And to help him along this journey is Jo, played by Miller, who is a good companion for Gunner.  Whereas Gunner still has his sense of wonder, Jo has long since lost it.  Yet the two are still a fun pair and each helps balance the other: Gunner helps Jo reclaim some of her youth and innocence whereas Jo helps Gunner progress and process the serious issues he is going through.

The Water Man is the directorial debut of David Oyelowo and is a strong first endeavor for him.  Oyelowo sought to create a film to share with families, but one that did not patronize the young protagonist. And in that he largely succeeded, with a film that stars a young protagonist dealing with real world issues.  And although the film uses a childlike imagination and sense of wonder, the film deals with real world issues without sugar coating them.  Although Gunner sees much through his animation and his sense of imagination, the end result is still encounters in the real world and the consequences that can come from it.  But this film is still a family film, so although it deals with some serious issues, it never feels like it gets too dark.  In that same vein, it provides an entry point for audiences young and old to think about tough issues and approach these difficult subjects. 

But underlying everything in this film is the strong sense of family and adventure.  The movie is not fast paced, but it is well shot--with some beautiful nature scenes--and entertaining.  The journey progresses slowly, but you will absolutely enjoy your time.  And although the ending seems to wrap up a little too conveniently with some abrupt changes and conclusions, the overall journey is worth taking.  Oyelowo has planted a strong flag for his first directorial movie, and I am excited see where his perfect, family friendly but realistic films go from here.

The Water Man will capture your imagination with its strong performances, excellent cast, and sense of real world issues mixed with childlike wonder. 

Watch it.

Darren M. Demetre	...	executive producer Connor Flanagan	...	executive producer Carla Gardini	...	producer (p.g.a.) Monica Levinson	...	producer (p.g.a.) David Oyelowo	...	producer (p.g.a.) Shivani Rawat	...	producer (p.g.a.) Oprah Winfrey	...	executive producer    Directed by  David Oyelowo	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Emma Needell	...	(as Emily A. Needell)
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The Water Man is in theaters on May 7, 2021. For tickets, click here.

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