a critiQal film review Zoom (2006)

  • DVD
  • Vudu

Plot: When Earth is threatened with imminent destruction, an over-the-hill former superhero who has lost his powers (Allen) is called back in to train a ragtag bunch of kids with superpowers of their own.

709 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 32s)
  • ...throws away its potential and becomes disjointed - and way too sweet for anyone to stomach.

After being pleasantly surprised by Sky High (2005), we were on the lookout for more kid superhero pics. And then there was Zoom, and it seemed to be just what we were looking for. So, would Zoom be another surprise hit, or would it just prove Sky High (2005) was a fluke?

In Zoom, Tim Allen plays a former superhero who is unwillingly pulled back into the life when he’s bribed to train a new bunch of kid superheroes. Usually, Tim works well with kids (ie. The Santa Clause (1994), The Santa Clause 2 (2002), etc.) – but not in this case. He seems to have been away from acting for a little bit too long, and doesn’t really contribute what viewers are expecting from him by this point. Aside from not really seeming to give it his all, he’s also, for the first time in a long while, not that funny in this film. Usually he can be counted on to provide laughs for any situation (remember Galaxy Quest (1999)?), but in this case he doesn’t come through.

Instead, he leaves both the laughs (and most of the acting) to a very old-looking Chevy Chase – who isn’t up to the challenge at all – and the kids of Zoom. Unfortunately, except for some funny sequences focusing on young Ryan Newman’s ability to charm the socks off of anyone and throw her weight around (literally) at the same time, the kids aren’t up to the task either.

And that leaves Courteney Cox as a bumbling scientist. Thankfully, she does provide a little bit more acting than her co-stars, and her wonderment at the superhero process goes a long way towards enticing the viewer to stick around. Unfortunately, the viewer will eventually come to regret that decision, as Zoom goes nowhere fast.

With a huge build-up on an impending disaster, the film’s main focus is on training these kids to win. At the same time some of it’s characters are plotting in the background to use an experimental and dangerous technology to boost the kids powers – making the whole training session completely pointless. So, it’s hard for the viewer to get involved in the kids’ training, when they expect it is just filler for what’s to come in Zoom.

Unfortunately, the kids’ training is the basis for the whole film, so the viewer is never really pulled back into the film. Near the end, as the disaster nears, the viewer expects big things to happen – but again, are let down by a rather uninteresting and cheesy ending.

Zoom eventually becomes less about the training the viewer is expecting, and more about Tim Allen coming out of his shell to provide what it turns out the kids really need – a friend. Unsurprisingly, when this eventually happens, the movie turns into a big sappy hug-fest, not something most are looking for in a superhero pic.

On the surface, Zoom seems to have everything going for it – a superhero movie that kids and parents should love. It’s got funnyman Tim Allen, old school comedian Chevy Chase, even Rip Torn is thrown in a spoofy reprise of his role in Men in Black (1997). And it’s got kids learning how to use their somewhat goofy powers. Sounds great, right?

Unfortunately, with it’s “friendship” angle turning out to be the main point of Zoom, it casts aside all it’s potential and instead becomes a bit disjointed – and way too sweet for even people who enjoy that kind of film to handle without their stomachs roiling just a bit.

The kids may still enjoy it, just to watch the kids in Zoom have fun trying out their superpowers, however it’s full of way too much cheese and sweetness for parents, and they will probably come to regret buying this one for their kids after seeing it for the first time. Thankfully, however, the kids probably will lose interest quickly also, saving the parents from having to “accidentally” throw out the DVD. Instead, it will collect dust on the child’s shelf after being watched only a handful of times.

If you are over the age of 10, except for a couple of Ryan Newman’s scenes, Zoom isn’t worth the rental cost, so skip it – and go watch Sky High (2005) again instead.

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