Culture > Movies

Cheap knockoff

Movies | Everything in Zoom has been done better elsewhere

Issue: "Katrina: One year later," Aug. 26, 2006

What do you get when you lift elements from Sky High, Galaxy Quest, and X-Men, and do it on the cheap? You get Zoom (PG for brief rude humor, language, and mild action), the latest flick out of the comic-book-hero mold-in this case, a little too much out of that mold.

Jack Shepherd, aka Captain Zoom (Tim Allen), an erstwhile Flash-like superhero, is strong-armed into training a ragtag group of gifted kids, whose powers include possessing invisibility and angst in equal proportions and inflating like a balloon at will. Their mission is to fight Zoom's brother, Concussion, who turns evil after absorbing too many gamma-13 rays and now is returning to Earth via a trans-dimensional anomaly.

Though it's only an 83-minute movie, the first hour is consumed with making mischief on the bumbling Dr. Grant (Chevy Chase). Here, disillusioned Jack delivers the Tim Allen shtick-running wise-guy commentary-as a psychoanalyst with thick glasses (Courtney Cox) repeatedly trips over her feet.

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The cast disappoints: Allen is typecast so often in this role he could do it in his sleep. Chase seems to have confused his scientist role with humorless robot. But the fatal blow is Zoom's directionless plot that bears little resemblance to Jason Lethcoe's books, on which it is based. It betrays its own on-screen lesson in sticking together by offering nothing cohesive to bind the silly gags and one-liners that teens will find monotonous and adults hokey.

Third-graders might judge it passable entertainment, and bad language and strong crudeness are mostly (though not completely) absent. Unfortunately, the central moral-the importance of "family"-is undermined by the conspicuous lack of families in the movie. In Zoom, "family" means "team."

Zoom has lots of energy, largely expended on pranks, and lots of visual effects, largely used to create giant mucus balls, but little original content-save maybe the screen debut of Tim Allen's goatee.


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