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"Don't Go into the Tricked Out Refrigerator, Jack."
Mar 18, 2009 (Updated Aug 3, 2009)
Review by Mark Baker
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Action, laughs, and special effects all come together for a fun ride
Cons:Moralizing; dropped sub-plot
The Bottom Line: This is the most fun I've had at the movies so far this year.
Never having watched the original Witch Mountain movies, I was inclined to give Race to Witch Mountain a pass right from the start. But then I started seeing the previews and thought it looked like it could be good. Watching the originals didn't increase my enthusiasm any, but I'm glad I gave it a go. Forget everything you think you know about Witch Mountain. This is a new and different movie. But boy is it fun.
Recommend this product?
Jack Bruno (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is a cab driver. He has a shady past but is trying to put all that behind him. It's time for the annual science fiction convention in Las Vegas, which means his cab is filled with weirdos, including Dr. Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino), one of the speakers.
Yet the trouble comes in the forms of two teenagers. Seth (Alexander Ludwig) and Sara (AnnaSophia Robb) appear in his cab at the start of one shift. They offer him a wad of cash and ask to be taken to an undisclosed location. When they arrive, Jack discovers it is an abandoned cabin in the middle of the nowhere. Not wanting to leave them alone, he discovers something he never imagined. Is he in over his head? Can he help Seth and Sara complete their mission?
The plot bears no resemblance to either of the movies it supposedly came from. Honestly, they could have slapped any name on it and it would have been just as good. But that's not to say that they don't recognize their roots. There are subtle nods to the original the entire way through. Check out Jack's cab number. They manage to get a Winnebago involved. And the original kids, Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann show up in the diner scene as Tina and Anthony. For fans of the original, you'll know how cool that is.
I thought for a minute they were going to spend too long setting things up, so I was actually surprised at just how quickly Jack, Seth, and Sara met up. And from there, things only get even more interesting. The plot moves from one plot point to another with ease, introducing a deadly Siphon and Department of Defense men played by Ciaran Hinds, Tom Everett Scott, and Chris Marquette. With so many people chasing our heroes, there's never a dull moment.
Just because this is a family film, don't think they skimped on the special effects. There were several truly mouth dropping moments, the most impressive of which was in the previews. I don't know how they did it, and I've stopped wanting to find out. I just love believing what I see.
The movie is more than plot and special effects. It has plenty of comic relief. I was smiling several times and laughed out loud several others. It finds just the right balance. Some of the best comic relief comes from Garry Marshall's cameo as science fiction writer Donald Harlan.
And the movie truly has heart. Even though I saw most of the plot points coming, I came to love these characters. I didn't want the film to end because I enjoyed them so much.
The film is filled with action and stunts. I'm sure this is why the movie got a PG rating. There are several intense scenes, but most older elementary age kids should be fine with it. The movie does start to preach about global warming at one point, but it isn't for more than a few seconds.
I saw my first movie with The Rock in the lead a few weeks back and had a hard time getting past his poor acting. I'm happy to say he's really improved. Granted, there's nothing award worthy here, but I believed every minute of his acting. The same goes for the rest of the cast.
Which brings us to my only real complaint about the film. There is a sub-plot involving Jack's past coming back to get him. It weaves in and out of the story until about 3 quarters of the way into the film when it is suddenly dropped. Yes, it is annoying. But I still left with a smile on my face.
Speaking of leaving, don't. There are a few scenes during the credits you'll want to catch.
Despite the dropped plot point, I left with a smile on my face. In fact, I was kind of surprised at just how much I enjoyed Race to Witch Mountain. If you are at all interested in seeing it, go. You'll have a good time with an enjoyable movie.
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