Magic in the Water (1995) starring Mark Harmon, Joshua Jackson, Harley Jane Kozak, Sarah Wayne, Willie Nark-Orn, Frank Salsedo directed by Rick Stevenson Movie Review

Magic in the Water (1995)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Sarah Wayne, Mark Harmon and Joshua Jackson in Magic in the Water (1995)

Cookies and Cream

Nessie has moved to Canada or at least that is how "Magic in the Water" comes across as we have a mystical monster in a Canadian lake where the locals play on it to attract tourists. But maybe because this is a manufactured legend created for a movie that it lacks something or maybe it is because "Magic in the Water" throws too many cliches together that it comes across as trying too hard. You see on top of this magical monster, we also have a workaholic father too busy to spend time with his children, there is also evil businessmen dumping toxins in the lake, a mystical old Indian who has some sort of deep connection to the monster and of course a semi romantic sub plot. It may work for young audiences who to be honest are the target audience but as a family movie it suffers from feeling too manufactured and cliche for older audiences.

Jack Black (Mark Harmon - Beyond the Poseidon Adventure) is a radio psychiatrist who never stops working, even on the rare occasion of taking his children Ashley (Sarah Wayne) and Joshua (Joshua Jackson - Andre) on holiday doesn't stop him from being glued to his phone and at his laptop. But all that changes when he has an encounter with Orky the supposedly mythical monster of the lake and he finds himself with other locals who have encountered the monster all being treated by local Doctor Wanda Bell (Harley Jane Kozak) who he takes a shine to. Jack is not the only one to encounter Orky as his daughter befriends the creature of the lake when she discovers it loves the cream filling from Oreo cookies. But it seems Orky is in danger from local businessmen dumping toxins in the water.

Harley Jane Kozak and Frank Salsedo in Magic in the Water (1995)

As I said I am sure "Magic in the Water" works for a young audience or at least worked for a young audience back in 1995 as now some of the effects are dated. But for parents sitting through this with children it has a slight feel of desperate as we don't just get one cliche but several as we have a workaholic father, mysterious old Indian, evil businessmen and much more. It makes it feel incredibly manufactured, stringing together familiar children movie ideas but never doing anything new with them to make it feel original. It still sort of works because it is a fun, inoffensive movie which children should enjoy but for those who have sat through various children movies over the years it is lacking.

It is also lacking because frankly it lacks the wow and whether it is early on when all we see is water movement to tell us about Orky or when we finally see it, there is nothing to go wild about. In truth I was seriously disappointed when eventually we saw Orky as it looked like one of those animatronic robots you get at theme parks making it lack the cuteness that you expected. And that is quite a surprise because for the most "Magic in the Water" is full of cuteness especially as most of the movie focuses on Ashley as she is filled with cute wonderment over the creature which eats the cream from her cookies.

Aside from Ashley who to be honest is well acted by Sarah Wayne the rest of the movie focuses on Mark Harmon as Jack Black, an unfortunate choice of character name. Now I like Harmon and he plays the part of the workaholic father who unsurprisingly transforms well but with this being a children's movie it is pantomime like even if there are fun scenes such as him re-enacting his childhood by trying to dig to China. What does seem to be the case is that with so many manufactured elements there are a variety of characters that are disappointingly underused from Frank Salsedo as the mysterious Uncle Kipper to Harley Jane Kozak as Dr. Wanda Bell. And then there is a young Joshua Jackson as the unimaginatively named Joshua who spends most of the movie saying "I bet I could drive that" and you know that means at some point he is going to get behind a wheel of some sort of vehicle.

What this all boils down to is that "Magic in the Water" probably was entertaining for young children back in 1995 but not only does it now feel a bit dated it also feels highly manufactured with various cliches thrown together in an unoriginal way which leaves little to entertain an older audience.