If there was ever a movie that could be categorized as operating on autopilot, it's “Zoom,” the new family comedy that opened to a tepid response over the weekend.
Despite a cast featuring some familiar names, “Zoom” never feels like it's at full speed. Rather, it coasts through a cliché-filled story that would have probably fared better in a straight-to-DVD format.
Tim Allen stars as a former superhero named Captain Zoom who is called back into action to transform a group of kids into superheroes at a private academy. The group includes a teenage girl with psychic powers (Kate Mara), a teenage boy capable of making himself invisible (Michael Cassidy), a young girl with super strength (Ryan Newman) and a preteen boy capable of inflating (Spencer Breslin).
At first, Zoom is reluctant to assist the new team, but eventually everyone bonds and learns the value of family.
Metacritic.com has referred to “Zoom” as “X-Men for kids” - a rather simplistic, but appropriate, way to describe the film. “Zoom” also feels like a cheaper version of last year's “Sky High,” which was much more clever and entertaining.
The script could've been salvaged if it had a cast to pull it off, but everybody seems like they're just in it for a paycheck. Allen and Chevy Chase, who plays a doctor at the academy, are painfully unfunny, while Courteney Cox is completely miscast as a clumsy assistant who is smitten with Zoom. After roles in “Brokeback Mountain” and TV's 󈬈,” it's also pretty hard to accept Mara as a teenager (but that's a minor gripe).
I will concede that I took my 5-year-old son, Sean, to see “Zoom” and he thoroughly enjoyed it. He also liked “Barnyard” and “The Ant Bully,” so it's pretty obvious my son's standards aren't very high at this point in his life.
I guess this means I will have to add “Zoom” to his library when it comes out on video, but I'll wait until it hits the discount bin - which should be in about two weeks.
DVD dandy of the week
This week's dandy is the underrated 1987 film “Some Kind of Wonderful” (A-), which is about to be released in a special edition DVD package.
Written by John Hughes, “Some Kind of Wonderful” tells the story of Keith (Eric Stoltz), an aspiring artist with a huge crush on the most popular girl in school Amanda (Lea Thompson).
When Amanda suddenly breaks up with her boyfriend, Hardy (Craig Sheffer), Keith sees an opportunity to date the girl of his dreams. But what Keith doesn't realize is that his perfect match is actually his best friend, Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), a tomboy who secretly has feelings for Keith.
Hughes had such a string of hits in the mid-'80s from “The Breakfast Club” to “Ferris Bueller's Day Off” that “Some Kind of Wonderful” kind of gets lost in the shuffle - even though I think it's one of his best screenplays.
“Wonderful” is often compared to another Hughes film, “Pretty in Pink,” (which is also about to be re-released on DVD), but it's a much stronger film - anchored by strong work from Stoltz, Masterson and Thompson and some nice supporting work from John Ashton and Elias Koteas.
“Some Kind of Wonderful” is a great throwback to the teen genre explosion of the 1980s, and still manages to hold up 20 years later.
“Some Kind of Wonderful” is rated PG-13 for language and some sexual references and will be available on special edition DVD on Aug. 29.