Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Race To Which Mountain?

We went to the movies the other day: Race To Witch Mountain. I have vague recollections of a movie similar to this from when I was a kid, but they were so vague I didn't remember that the kids were aliens.

Or should I say beings from another planet? Hmmm, let's leave it at aliens. These teens used complete sentences and complex vocabulary; that's alien enough for me. Most of my teen relatives punctuate their every utterance with the word "dude" (which actually comes out more like "dewwwwwwwwwd").

The funny thing about going to the movies with kids is that most of my witticisms go right over their heads. I made some rude but appreciative jokes about The Rock, err, Dwayne Johnson, and Max said, rather incredulously, "Don't you like him? He's the guy from The Mummy. You love The Mummy." After admitting that yes, I did love The Mummy (one and two only, three was so terrible I nearly cried, even with the fab Michelle Yeoh), I fell silent. Mocking a muscle-bound smart-ass (with interestingly white teeth) who could scream around in a taxi AND backtalk Storm Troopers wasn't going to fly with the boys. They were too busy coveting those Storm Trooper costumes to find my wisecracks of any interest whatsoever.

Usually it's FDPG causing the distractions at the theatre; this time it was the boys. They both gasped audibly when the Storm Troopers appeared on the scene, and Dominic even shouted "Those are OLD Storm Troopers! From episodes three to six!" (I'm not a Star Wars fan so the fact that my 7 year old knows this obscure information sometimes floors me) When The Rock Jack Bruno wrestled their guns away from them the boys cackled. When Jack Bruno pointed at the sign in his cab that forbids passengers to carry weapons, the boys guffawed. When we glimpsed the Storm Troopers again near the end, Dominic sighed adoringly, then whispered "That was so funny, this is such a great movie" to me.

I chose this film because the only other choices of kid movies were Coraline and Inkheart and both of those seemed guaranteed to scare the bejesus out of FDPG. And yes, I do mean the bejesus. We could have seen that one about the chihuahuas, because I doubt that would have scared the behayzoos out of FDPG, but the previews gave me the willies. CGI dog mouths making witty remarks? Wearing pink outfits and parading up and down Rodeo Drive? Dancing? Ugh.

I prepped FDPG by showing her a few Quicktime previews. They looked a little suspect (Bejesus Meter Reading: 7/10), but she assured me that they did not scare her in the slightest. The boys were quite taken, as they usually are, by the explosions: "Cool!" "Whoa!" "Did you see that?" And since I had had it with school for that week (I think I have a case of belated Winter Blahs), Race To Witch Mountain it was.

I've already given away what the boys liked best about the film, so I won't say much more, except that the two kid actors in Escape To Witch Mountain (the original Disney film from 1975) have cameos. And the lovely Carla Gugino, who I've always had a soft spot for, was horribly misused here. They stuffed her into clothes two sizes too small, gave her a bad haircut (not to mention some dreadful lines), and expected her to shine, but she didn't. She looked tired and exasperated (maybe Dwayne's teeth hurt her eyes). Ciaran Hinds did alright though, despite lines like "I think we both agree it's been worth our previous failures," "Whatever they may look like, they are not children, gentlemen," and "Secure the perimeter!"

(When Richard and I used to travel with the kids and stop periodically at play areas, we'd get out our little walkie talkies and follow the kids around, whispering to each other in the playground: "have you secured the perimeter?" "yes")

And the two kids who played the aliens were surprisingly impressive: they had the right touch of oddly placed facial features and they could deliver such lines as "The information you are seeking is not within your realm of understanding" and "The urgency of our trip has not decreased" without sounding completely idiotic. They should have left out the Meaty Treat joke, though. (Sheila's Wince-O-Meter Reading: 7/10)

Yes, there were a lot of banal bits, and yes, some of it was utterly unbelievable, but on the whole I think my kids loved it. There were just enough action sequences and explosions for Max, just enough strange people in alien costumes doing frat boy things for Dominic, and the girls were smarter than the boys, which was right up FDPG's alley.


shaun said...

I must have been skimming, because it took me a while to figure out that this was a new movie, and not the old one. Which made for a very confusing reading experience. "What do the Rock and Storm Troopers have to do with Race to Witch Mountain?"

Thanks for the review -- I haven't seen it around.

Subspace Beacon said...

You had me at stormtroopers.

Okay. You had me at The Rock. I love The Rock. Ever since he was on Voyager episode -- playing an intergalactic gladiator defeated by Seven of Nine.

Yes, the chihuahua (that word is hard to spell) movie looks hideous.

sheila said...

You had me rereading my post, Shaun, something I generally avoid like the plague! This movie isn't actually a remake, per se, but another in the same vein.

SB: I love The Rock too. There's something so, err, big and galootish about him. Well, that and the fact that he doesn't look very humanoid at all. I like that in an action figure.

Suji said...

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Warmest regards

Vivian said...

I'm not sure I remember this version of the movie. The Rock is cool. We just watched him in the movie, The Game Plan.