Hello, friends in time, and welcome to a regular feature on Cinema 52 where I put my weekly viewing of Back to the Future on hold and watch another movie featuring time travel for comparison. It may not keep me sane, but it will probably always involve one guy shouting, “This doesn’t make any sense!” And that’s good enough for me.

THE LAKE HOUSE (2006)

The Lake House is a film that will make you laugh every time someone says “lake house.” Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) moves into the titular pond dwelling and finds a letter from the “previous” (?) [!] {.} tenant, Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock). The date on this letter is two years in the future. HUH?! After a few exchanged messages, they realize that time conquers all or whatever the fuck. Sixty minutes later, it ends like you think it will.

THE STORY:
Nothing checks out. Nothing. Let’s just get that out of the way. This movie does all three kinds of timelines and gives zero shits about it. We get immutable “but that hasn’t happened yet!” scenes, we get mutable “that wasn’t there a second ago!” scenes, and we get alternate “hey, where I’m from…” scenes. I will sometimes (rarely) allow a time travel comedy to get away with this, if they exploit the Rule of Funny appropriately. Rule of Romantic, however, can get the hell out of my house.

Not pictured: my house.

Okay, so there’s a mailbox in front of the aquatic residence. You put a letter in and you raise the little red flag. In the other year, it pops up, and the letter is now there. Phallic symbolism aside, why didn’t anyone think of trying to put, oh, I don’t know, a phone in there? The stocks section of some newspapers from the future? Stick a streaming webcam in the damn thing, see what happens.

Boing.

As you’d expect, there are moments that they run into each other, but they’re not aware of this fact because they don’t know what their time buddy looks like. Um, hey, you know what fits in a mailbox? A fucking photograph.

“I wonder if he’s black…”

Okay, so maybe if you question this whole temporal You’ve Got Mail scenario, it won’t work any more. Why? Because God’s doing it and if you test some theories, he takes it away? Then God’s a dick, magic is fucking stupid, and these kinds of stories are retarded.

Magic didn’t stop Phil Connors from putting on his science goggles.

THE ACTING:
Just to twist the knife in the wound, I really don’t enjoy Sandra Bullock.

Alright, I had a bit of a crush on her in Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman.

Despite the chub she gives Roger Ebert, I find her annoying the same way I find Jennifer Aniston unwatchable; she tries to be likable so hard. The amount of work that goes into being such a sweet, desirable love interest only repulses me more. And I’m not saying Sandra must be intolerable in real life, it’s just that her performances often hit the uncanny valley of manufactured charm for me. Still, I’ll take her over Aniston any day.

The angle of her head in this photo was determined by a committee of adorability scientists.

Keanu Reeves should always be doing two things: waving his badge at moving vehicles and/or air guitar. A lot of people make fun of Reeves for his acting, but he can be effective in the right role. Unfortunately, the only emotion he displays convincingly in The Lake House is “turtleneck.”

“Why can’t I meet a turtleneck man?” – Fans of this movie crying in the bathroom at J. C. Penney

Christopher Plummer is in the movie as Keanu’s distant father, which really adds nothing to the plot except that he’s the one who built the lake house. Plummer phoning it in is still better to watch than most actors trying their hardest, so it was nice to see him. Wait a minute, he was also in Somewhere in Time… this movie has a trifecta of actors who’ve done another time travel movie (Keanu in the Bill & Ted series, Sandra in Premonition). Neat?

THE SPECIAL EFFECTS:
Guess what? I have compliments for this movie. But before I hand them out, the aforementioned magic flag on the mailbox looks stupid.

Industrial Light & Fishing Line.

There is a scene involving Keanu Reeves planting a tree in the past that has a very striking visual payoff in the future. No, it makes zero sense, but it’s probably the most memorable image in the movie. A simple cut makes it work, as opposed to some terrible CGI abomination like you might see in… its own trailer? What the fuck? What the fuck?

I was going to show you how nice it looks, but subtlety doesn’t belong in trailers, I guess.

One of the disadvantages of a movie about writing letters is that there’s a lot of footage of people reading while you listen to a voiceover. The movie starts off showing Alex and Kate’s interactions this way, but then shifts to scenes of them sitting in the same locations at different times having conversations. Once again, logic is absent here, but it’s a stylistic choice that keeps the movie fresh.

Oh, well, I guess I am okay with the Rule of Romantic.

“Are they ever going to get rid of that weird half-a-guy statue?”

OTHER STUFF:

  • Kate’s mother has a thick accent and is frequently seen eating. Good luck figuring out what she’s saying.
  • So… what the hell happens when one of the lake house’s residents gets actual mail?

THE “NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE!” MOMENT:
Keanu Reeves ponders aloud before a clogged sink bukkakes him with diarrhea and semen.

“2006? What does she mean, 2006? Awwrgh, God! Oh, God!”

FINAL THOUGHTS:
My viewing partners agreed that this is the worst time travel movie I’ve watched this year, though, in fairness, none of them even bothered to show up when I watched Black Knight. The rules are all over the place, the love story isn’t particularly captivating, and it’s fairly predictable. Somewhere in Time is a much better romance (and I didn’t even enjoy that film all that much), as is Back to the Future. Should you watch this, I recommend having Speed on hand to cleanse your palate and redeem the careers of Keanu, Sandra, and Bus.

Oh, and if you’re wondering if Il Mare, the Korean film that The Lake House was based on, is any better, I’ll let you know as long as that Amazon seller was trustworthy.

LATER THIS WEEK (AS LONG AS THAT AMAZON SELLER WAS TRUSTWORTHY):
Il Mare (2000)

NEXT WEEK:
Premonition (2007)

Want more time travel? Head on over to the Time Out archive.