The Good: None.
The Bad: Wow, where to start: acting, characters, humor, plot
The Basics: In an unredeemable waste of time, children are trained to be superheroes in a movie that is as predictable as it is unfunny.
Wow. This is where actor's go for their careers to die.
You've no idea how much I wish that could be my entire review for Zoom: Academy For Superheroes, a movie I sat down to watch thinking it might be like Galaxy Quest (reviewed here!). Alas, despite the presence of Tim Allen, this was not the case. Apparently based on a children's book series, Zoom is a kid's movie and offers absolutely nothing for an adult audience. While the concept could have been executed in a way that might entertain adults (a la Mystery Men, reviewed here!) this is not the case, though Smashmouth did the music for this film, like they provided songs for Mystery Men.
Years ago, there were superheroes developed by the U.S. government and the most notable of them were the brothers Jack and Connor Shepard. Jack became the leader of the group with his ability to move quite fast; he was known as Captain Zoom. His brother, when the government tried to augment the superheroes' natural powers, became the villainous Concussion. Now, years later, Concussion is returning from another dimension and giving a plot-convenient fourteen days to arrive. This will allow the somewhat moronic Dr. Grant and his hot assistant Marsha to enlist Jack Shepard to train a new team of superheroes to take on and defeat Concussion.
In the first few moments of Zoom: Academy For Superheroes, the viewer knows the film is headed for stupidity and disaster when Dr. Grant is ordered to assemble a new team of young superheroes by finding the misfits and social outcasts. That line of dialogue just made me groan, but even I was unprepared for the stupidity that would follow. The first example of a "misfit" is a six year old girl who is bullied for her Halloween candy and responds by throwing him up into a tree. The ridiculous simplicity of this is compounded by the annoyed look Cindy's mother gives her for tossing the bully into a tree. Were I little superhuman Cindy, I think it would be a fair reaction to wonder why mom just watched me being bullied and looked annoyed at ME for responding the way I did! Cliche #2 is bullied girl, 16 year-old Summer who is annoyed by cheerleaders who keep taking her lunch tray and pushing before her in line. Her solution? Use her telekinetic powers to boil the sauces which blow up onto the cheerleaders who obligingly stand before the sauces waiting for it to happen.
It doesn't even matter who comes next - there are two boys to balance the two girls - this is just dumped itself into the realms of utter, unredeeming stupidity. It's so terribly convenient that when asked to find "social misfits," "kids who don't fit in," Dr. Grant finds them so easily in white, middle-class suburbia. This is the whitest group of social outcasts I've ever seen. They are all obediently white, clean, middle class, and heterosexual (no doubt) with good American surnames like "Williams," "Jones," "West," and "Collins." Not a "Hershel" or "Freeman" among them!
Outside the utter conceptual stupidity of Zoom, the movie progresses to go from bad to worse with the team converging on the training facility for the most hackneyed gags (there is much falling down and knocking into things) and predictable blunders that even a child could not find surprising. As the threat of Concussion moves closer, the team goes through normal and predictable foibles that come with a superhero team in a kid's movie.
The enduring problem of Zoom: Academy For Superheroes is in the writing. Adam Rifkin, David Berenbaum, and Jason Lethcoe create characters that are all "types." None are extraordinary and none break the mold for who they could be or what they represent. The superheroes Mega Boy, Wonder, Houdini, and Princess are anything but special and director Peter Hewitt does not even make the movie look interesting.
The child actors playing the four heroes are universally bad. There are no Anna Paquins or Dakota Fannings here. These kids are children playing dress up and run around on celluloid. Sadly, the adult actors in Zoom are no better. Courtney Cox's performance as the supporting "woman" role is uninspired and serves only to remind the viewer that she got her start dancing with Bruce Springsteen - and that was a more natural acting job.
Tim Allen does his usual shtick as Allen that he's done innumerable times before. Here he's not funny and he's not entertaining and the character is in no way challenging or pushing forth his abilities in any meaningful way. Sadly, Allen makes an already terrible movie drag on with his uninspired antics.
The only one who is measurably worse is the aging Chevy Chase. On Family Guy, (in "Brian The Bachelor," season four - volume 4 on the DVDs) there's a joke about not mocking Chevy Chase because "He seems like the kinda guy who would sue. I mean, that guy's gotta have, like, no money left." Zoom: Academy For Superheroes seems to depend on that and Chase gives an awkward and ridiculously bad performance that mortgages any sense that he might have ever had any sort of comic genius. So, for example, much of his comedy here consists of screwing his face up slightly and speaking in a mildly high pitched voice, like in the beginning when the General notes that Concussion was destroyed years ago and they watched it happen and Chase merely nods yes, while saying "no."
This movie is an utter disappointment with nothing to offer adults in the way of entertainment. It's too stupid for even children. I'm shocked I could muster up so many words to describe how worthless this movie was. I'm surprised you could bear to read them all.
After all, this is where careers go to die.
For other works with Rip Torn, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Men In Black
Men In Black II
Men In Black 3
For other film reviews, be sure to check out my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2012, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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