Starring: Tim Allen, Courteney Cox-Arquette, Spencer Breslin, Chevy Chase
Director: Peter Hewitt
With a major emphasis being placed on the production of direct-to-DVD titles these days, you’d think that Sony would no longer be forced to dump as much crap onto the market as they used to, but after sitting through the agonizingly bad “Zoom,” it seems that we were wrong to pass judgment so quickly. Not at all embarrassed that the whole superhero fad was so ten minutes ago, Sony has taken it upon themselves to produce their very own superhero movie. As is expected, their take on the kids-with-superpowers concept is flatter than a week-old can of soda. I know, I know, the metaphor is kind of lame, but so is the movie; so unless you’re a fan of bad writing and cheesy special effects, you’re better off staying away from “Zoom: Academy for Superheroes.”
Apparently based on some teen lit book of the same name, the film tells the story of Jack Shepard (AKA Captain Zoom, played by Tim Allen, of course), a washed-up superhero who is recruited by the government-run Zenith Project to train a new group of youngsters when his evil brother, Concussion (Kevin Zegers), threatens to destroy the planet. There’s the annoying tiny tot with super strength (Ryan Newman); the chubby nerd with the power to expand any part of his body (Spencer Breslin); the misunderstood rebel who can go invisible (Michael Cassidy); and the teenage outcast with telekinetic abilities (Kate Mara). Joining Zoom on his mission to prepare the ill-equipped superheroes is a goofy scientist (Chevy Chase) and his beautiful assistant (Courteney Cox-Arquette).
Completely lacking the wit and charm that made superhero family flicks like “The Incredibles” and “Sky High” so entertaining, “Zoom” is an absolute mess of a movie. Sure, it was undoubtedly rushed to theaters to cash in on the backend of the superhero craze, but shouldn’t the fact that the film is based on a preexisting idea make writing a script that much easier? You’d think so, but the narrative is so thin that it’s hard to believe it ever worked as a novel. It’s all just a bunch of scenes hastily strung together by musical montage after musical montage, all of which are fueled by a soundtrack featuring new music by Smash Mouth. Oh joy, just what the world needed.Between this, the shameless marketing (ahem, Wendy’s), and the larger-than-life buffoonery of Chevy Chase defecating on his once-admired film career, it’s hard to look at “Zoom” with a straight face. Its only redeeming quality is that it might have actually been an interesting project in its early stages. An “old gang” photo of Zoom’s former teammates proudly displays Hollywood B-listers like Wilmer Valderrama, Devon Aoki and Alexis Bledel suited up. So did Sony nix these flashback scenes because they were deemed too adult, or was Sony simply setting itself up for a possible prequel? It hardly matters, although either scenario would have made for a much better movie.
The single-disc release of “Zoom” offers a poor selection of special features, but it doesn’t really matter since most kids couldn’t care less. Still, those interested in the production of the film can go behind-the-scenes in the 14-minute featurette, “Bringing Superheroes to Life,” while the kid-themed “Academy for Superheroes Guide” will teach your kids lessons like why to avoid junk food, exercise daily and more.