- Rated PG
- Buy the BD
All photos © Walt Disney
Reviewed by David Medsker
he following is a loose transcription of the conversation I had with myself as I drove home after seeing “Race to Witch Mountain.”
Head: Man, that was a bad movie.
Heart: Oh, don’t be a jerk. It’s made for kids, not for you.
Head: So you’re saying they don’t need to try as hard to make a good movie because it’s “for the kids”? That’s just pandering.
Heart: What do you want from them, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Witch Mountain”?
Head: Honestly, I just want something that doesn’t suck.
Heart: Let me guess: you don’t like Dwayne Johnson because he used to be a wrestler, and wrestling is for proles.
Head: I actually think Johnson is a very likable guy. He wasn’t the problem.
Heart: So what was the problem?
Head: Well, the boy that played the alien Seth (Alexander Ludwig) was really wooden, and the main government villain Burke (Ciarán Hinds), who has all sorts of sinister plans for the kids, was a walking cliché. Oh, and don’t forget the thugs who track down Johnson’s trying-to-go-legit cab driver Jack to come back to work for the local mob boss. They were hilariously bad, though one of them did provide the movie’s most unintentionally funny line.
Heart: A couple of bum performances killed the movie for you? Man, you are a crank.
Head: Oh, if only that was it. To quote another bad movie, I’m just gettin’ warmed up. The story is pretty straight-forward, yet they still felt the need to have the alien girl Sara (AnnaSophia Robb) explain every single thing we’ve just witnessed with our own eyes. We see her levitate objects with her mind, and then she says, “I have telekinetic abilities.” It’s unnecessary exposition disguised as awkward alien dialogue.
Heart: Hey, those powers came in handy when they had to deal with that junkyard dog.
Head: Augh! That’s another thing. Just in case the kids weren’t cute enough to carry the movie, they brought in a goddamn dog to make everyone go “Awwwww.” Shameless.
Heart: Hey, watch your mouth. This is a PG movie.
Head: Yeah, well, this conversation isn’t, so suck it.
Heart: Well, I liked the girl. She’s cute as a button.
Head: I actually liked her, too. She’s a cutie and clearly has talent; the problem was that she’s playing a role that was both overwritten and underwritten. Even Carla Gugino held her own as the UFO-obsessed scientist, and I liked the cameos by Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann, the kids from the original “Witch Mountain” movies. Nice callback, that.
Heart: I also liked the action sequences. Pretty cool stuff for a so-called kid’s movie.
Head: Perhaps, but it was all borrowed from other sources. Seth stopping the car dead in its tracks with his body? “Fantastic Four,” “Hancock” and “Hellboy” have all done that. Stopping bullets in mid-air? “The Matrix” did that ten years ago, and their CGI was better. Seth being able to change his molecular density, and disappearing out of the back seat of a car? The ghost twins from “The Matrix Reloaded” did that exact same trick.
Heart: You’ve seen too many movies.
Heart: All right, smart guy, what could they have done to make this movie better?
Head: For starters, they shouldn’t have talked down to their younger audience as if they’re developmentally disabled. Kids are smart; you don’t need to spoon-feed them everything, especially in a story this simple. Second, would it have killed them to put at least one original idea somewhere in this movie? I know it’s a remake, but that doesn’t mean you should just give up on it having an identity of its own.
Heart: Sigh. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.
Head: Uh, yeah, I’ll let you think that’s what’s happening here. Are we still on for the next Pixar movie?
Heart: I can’t say no to that. Not even to you.
Head: Great, see you then.
Bladder: You need to pee. Step on the gas.
Head: I need to pee. Better step on the gas.
Three-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
Disney’s release of “Race to Witch Mountain” isn’t going to turn heads, but even though the three-disc set isn’t exactly teeming with special features, it does have a few extras that will definitely interest fans. Director Andy Fickman introduces each deleted scene with an explanation as to why it didn’t make the final cut, while the Blu-ray exclusive “Which Mountain?” offers an inside look at the many hidden references to the 1975 original film. There’s also a blooper reel, as well as a DVD and digital copy of the film.