M. Night Shyamalan’s “Film School 2″

It was 1999, the movie “Sixth Sense” was packing theaters and M. Night Shyamalan The Next Spiel.jpglooked like a genius, a directing prodigy destined to win more Oscars than Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson combined. He was soon dubbed “The Next Spielberg” and every moviegoer learned to pronounce his name — or at least gave it a game try: “M. Night Shy May Lawn.”

A movie trailer trumpeting his name — “FROM THE MIND OF M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN” — would keep you from running to the bathroom during a Monday Night Football timeout, never mind that you’d just downed five Budweisers. You’d sit there and try to imagine what suspense and intrigue the mastermind had conjured this time — and how soon Spielberg would make his concession speech.

Shyamalan was the biggest South Asian name in America, with apologies to Deepak Chopra and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. Malayalis were quick to pronounce him a fellow Malayali. Tamils were quick to say, “No, he’s a Tamil.” And Philly Grrl was quick to say, “No, he’s a Philly Gy.”

Then came a string of movies that caused critics to groan and audiences to moan. His last offering, “The Last Airbender,” was the last straw for many fans. It virtually swept the Golden Raspberry Awards, winning five Razzies, including “Worst Director” and “Worst Picture.” Roger Ebert gave the movie half a star and called it “an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented.” Malayalis conceded that he’s a Tamil. Tamils insisted that he’s a Malayali. And Philly Grrl said, “You’re both right.”

But fans of his early movies didn’t give up. They came up with a brilliant idea: sending Shyamalan back to film school. 

According to PopEater, author/copywriter Chris Baker and his two pals are trying to raise $150,000 to help Shyamalan become a better filmmaker. Baker got the idea when he saw a trailer for “Devil” last year and the audience laughed at the phrase “From the mind of M. Night Shyamalan.”

After learning that Shyamalan was planning to make the futuristic thriller “1000 A.E.” with Will and Jaden Smith, Baker and his buddies launched M. Night School, a website where fellow concerned fans can donate funds to help the writer/director finesse his craft. “If we all donate just one dollar, we can send M. Night back to NYU so he gets the help we all so desperately need,” reads the site, which has raised approximately $540 thus far. [Link]

It sounds like a good plan, but will it really work? Can Shymalan reclaim his genius tag through some remedial study? Or does he need to do something more drastic, like shaving his head and wearing an earring? Or perhaps giving up scriptwriting and focusing on directing? Or giving up both and going to medical school?

Whatever happens, I’m rooting for him. I want to see him shift his career out of reverse and cruise up the mountain again. I want to see him nominated for an Oscar again. And most of all, I want to turn to my Malayali friends and say, “HE’S TAMIL, DAMMIT!”

12 thoughts on “M. Night Shyamalan’s “Film School 2″

    • “m night makes me laugh more”

      melvin makes me laugh most. We’ve been missing you Melvin.

      • Thank you, my_dog_jagat.

        Rahul, LOL.

        Agup, I presume you mean Indian-American director. If so, you’ve got to include Mira Nair in the discussion, though his box office success is unrivaled.

  1. Night was not adaptable. Movies all had the same signature, I think the beginning of the End was the “Village”, which was massively over-hyped (must have been shortly after Sixth Sense) and sort of failed to live up to it (like Segway).

    • He still hasn’t lost his edge, he made a cutting satirical analysis of PC racial affirmative action casting in The Last Airbender. Stood up for Alien rights in Signs and Tree rights in The Happening. You guys don’t get him man…he is way too meta for common people, he is out there…in the ether.

      And he wrote Stuart Little…so back off!

  2. “He is in the ether doing meta things” we don’t get? And then you mention Stuart Little? My niese is two years old, she GOT Stuart Little.

  3. All Shyamalan needs to do is get some life experiences. And he needs to lighten the hell up.

    He has the talent. All he needs is a more relaxefd attitude.

    BTW, his worst movie was Lady in the Water. No other movie comes close.

  4. Giving people a new kind of fright after they’ve gotten used to the ones you already served up requires a masterful recalculation of fear itself, not to mention updated subtleties re techniques for eliciting alarm, confusion and terror, if that remains the style and genre. I’m not sure you get that in school. Anyways, an earring and a shaven head are not so scary these days.

  5. We Malayalis had amazing filmmakers before and its the other way round now. So, if the comparison of our kind of movies(from good to bad) to Shyamalan’s, I think He is a Malayali.