The Waterdance (1992) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Scoopy's comments in white :

Although it is an excellent movie less than a decade old, The Waterdance passed through the theaters without being noticed and is virtually forgotten except among celebrity nudity aficionados  (Helen Hunt was young, naked, and looked great). Those who have rated it at IMDb have recognized its quality, however.

Eric Stoltz plays a novelist who becomes a paraplegic after a hiking accident.  It's not easy to tell an honest story about a guy's fight to re-establish a life after a crippling accident, but this story rings of truth in every minute of the film. Love is offered and rejected. Conversations that people should have go unspoken. The people who love the paraplegics still feel the same about them, but the victims can't accept that, and feel that they don't want to be burdensome or pitied. 

Perhaps the honesty is there because it was written and directed by a guy who went through the same experience itself. 


Helen Hunt shows her breasts and buns in a long sex scene with Eric Stoltz (in good light)

Two anonymous strippers dance on stage (Jennifer Ryan and Adriana Barbor). Breasts only.

One other stripper has some lines, but show only her buns in a thong (Barbara Alyn Woods)

The relationship between Stoltz and his girlfriend (Hunt) is central to the plot, but of equal importance is the bonding between Stoltz and the guys in his ward with the same condition. Before their accidents, they were once separated by race or degrees of literacy, but those separations now seem much less important than the things that bind them together. They learn that they themselves form their own very small minority. William Forsythe, Wesley Snipes and Stoltz handle the roles beautifully. These guys sometimes reach out a hand to another, we feel a reconciliation coming, but the script pleases us with reality. The other guy rejects the overture, and the one willing to make amends has to move on. 

Every time the film could degenerate into maudlin sentiment, cliché, or self-pity, the tendency is deflected by humor. In fact, a guy with normal use of his legs could not have written the script, not just because he wouldn't have the experiences to draw upon, but also because the jokes would have seemed too cruel. At one point, three nighttime escapees from the ward steal a van and go to a strip show. After a near-accident on the way, one of them says, "That was close. Luckily we're already paralyzed!"

The title refers to a dream that Wesley Snipes has, in which he will drown unless he can learn to dance upon the water.

Terrific story. Gets your heart. Gets your head. Tells the truth. A once in a lifetime convergence of writer/director with his own best story, and as real as an American studio picture is going to get. 

Tuna's comments in yellow

Scoopy got it right, from the basic quality of the film, to the grade of B. Even if you don't normally like character driven drama and dread disease films, you will probably like this one, for two reasons. 

  • First, there are no cliched happy endings, and
  • Second, there is a large amount of humor which was not forced to fit, but  was logical in the plot, and was in character. 

Although the film was largely ignored, and not nominated for any major awards, it did win two Independent Spirit awards, and two awards at Sundance, for audience appreciation and Best Screenplay.  The American Casting Guild nominated it for Best Casting, and for good reason. I can't think of a bad performance, even from the supporting players. The film is not a sugar coated "man overcomes personal tragedy" story, nor is it a heart- wrenching tragedy. Rather it is the story of real people coping with a life-altering injury told by someone who has been there. Not only were the patients accurately portrayed, but the hospital staff was just as realistically developed, from the nurse who didn't care at all, to the male nurse who was completely at ease caring for the men, and obviously cared a great deal.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1. Great transfer.

  • No features.


It also helps that there is a lengthy nude scene with Helen Hunt. The first half is in a darkened room, but creatively lit such that you can see her breasts clearly, and the second half is well lit. There is also breast exposure from two strippers, Jennifer Ryan and Adriana Barbor, and a good thong butt shot of Barbara Alyn Woods in one of the best lit strip club scenes I have seen. It is dark enough to have the proper atmosphere, yet light enough to see everyone clearly.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 3.5/4, Maltin 3/4

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. Twelve articles on file, all positive as far as I can see.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.1 
  • With their dollars ... it bombed. Only $1.7 million domestic gross.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B. Because it touches the heart and incorporates plenty of humor, I think many people would enjoy this. Especially those who want to see Helen Hunt young and naked.

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