Say this for director Robert Rodriguez: He sure loves his kids. For his kindergarten-friendly follow-up to this spring's gritty Sin City, the multi-faceted filmmaker decided to let his 7-year-old son, the evocatively named Racer Max Rodriguez, dream up a scenario. But maybe Rodriguez listened a little too closely.
The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D is like sitting through a 5-year-old's description of his trip to Disney World: Incredibly cute for about 10 minutes, but breathlessly repetitive and muddled for the remaining 80.
The film's prologue introduces us to our bland, Culkin-esque hero Max (Cayden Boyd) and his "dream journal," in which he scribbles tales of his fantasy superhero friends. Picked on by bullies and his anti-fun teacher (George Lopez), Max suddenly finds himself transported, Neverending Story-style, to Planet Drool ("a planet so cool, it makes you drool"), a dream-powered place that features chocolate-chip mountains, ice castles and, yes, his made-up pals Shark Boy (Taylor Lautner) and Lava Girl (Taylor Dooley). From there, the adventures grow progressively blander; it's hard to tell why Max is in his fantasy world, or what he has to accomplish before leaving.
As with his previous kiddie efforts, the Spy Kids series, Rodriguez seems to deliberately refer to cheesy '50s family adventures. But the director doesn't seem to understand the difference between, say, Tim Burton's idea of '50s kitsch and that of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The actors both kids and adults are stiff and unnatural, and every line of dialogue sounds like a moral. Borrowing a page from the last (and least) Spy Kids flick, most of the film is meant to be watched through old-fashioned cardboard 3-D goggles, which mostly just make everything darker and blurrier than it should be. And when a kids' movie has so little appeal for adults, the least it can do is provide a couple of eye-popping sequences.
Michael Hastings writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to email@example.com.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.