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The Independent Critic

Tim Allen, Courteney Cox, Chevy Chase, Rip Torn, Kate Mara
Peter Hewitt
Adam Rifkin, David Berenbaum
Rated PG
83 Mins.

 "Zoom" Review 
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Despite the fact that it is a virtual retread of several other kiddie superhero flicks, "Zoom" is a modestly enjoyable but ultimately irrelevant film destined for a quick exit from theatres and headed to a more successful run as light, family-oriented entertainment.

Tim Allen seems committed to recreating Kurt Russell's Disney days, as he appears in yet another goofy, pointless family flick with light laughs, light entertainment but enough "awwww" moments to make it a semi-enjoyable view for families. The film has enough dialogue that its target younger audience will find it boring in spots, however, the dialogue is so fundamental that adults are also likely to be bored much of the time.

The odd fact is that none of this is the fault of the cast, a hodge-podge of "B" listers whose efforts here are admirable considering the below-average material they have to work with much of the time.

"Zoom" brings us the story of Jack (Tim Allen), a former superhero known as "Captain Zoom," who is forced back into action to train a new group of Zenith Team members including: 1) Houdini (Michael Cassidy), a 17-year-old brooding teen able to make himself disappear coupled with the gift of "mindsight", 2) Wonder (Kate Mara), a 16-year-old beautiful outcast with mind-reading abilities, 3) Megaboy (Spencer Breslin), a 12-year-old overweight youth able to massively increase his body size, and 4) Princess (Ryan Newman), a 6-year-old with tremendous strength.

Admit it. Already you've already identified similar films...say "Sky High," "Galaxy Quest", the "Spy Kids" films, and even "Zathura?"

Virtually every aspect of this film feels familiar, and it doesn't help to have Rip Torn playing the evil military guy with a hidden agenda. Doesn't Torn play a similar role in just about every other film?

Add into the mix a "Captain Zoom" worshipping psychologist with a secret (Courteney Cox) and a bumbling scientist (Chevy Chase), and you have the makings of one enjoyable Disney flick...Disney Channel, that is.

As directed by Peter Hewitt ("Garfield" and "Thunderpants"), "Zoom" is a formulaic and predictable film with a second-rate production that includes a "Zathura" like graphic design right down to an obnoxious "Zenith Team" logo that seems to separate all the major scenes.

The script, by Adam Rifkin and David Berenbaum, is a mishmash of flat jokes and familiar set-ups. Only the occasional "awww" moment serves to remind us that both Rifkin ("Small Soldiers") and Berenbaum ("Elf")have previously written decent films along with their much larger collection of sub-par films.

Somehow, without almost any justification, Allen and the gang almost work together to make this film enjoyable. Allen, who in the film's funniest moment during the closing credits acknowledges being funnier on the TV, doesn't really stretch himself here but does manage to do what he does fairly well. Cox has always been somewhat convincing as sort of a beautiful nerd, and her comfortable presence makes her sympathetic character that much more believable.

Chase is given only one scene where we are truly reminded of his comic potential, while Torn plays virtually the same character he always plays in these sorts of films.

All of the young actors do a serviceable job here, and their chemistry makes the building of the team easier to buy into. The younger set, Breslin and Newman, offer particularly stronger, funnier performances and Newman's character is blessed with the vast majority of the film's "awww" moments. Kevin Zegers, so wonderful in "TransAmerica," is a virtual caricature here as Captain Zoom's long lost brother turned evil.

The end result is really a film that more sputters than zooms, but survives mainly upon the strength of its committed cast with an obvious chemistry. If you found that you really enjoyed all the "Spy Kids" films, "Zathura" and "Sky High," then odds are you will find pockets of "Zoom" you will enjoy tremendously. If, however, you find yourself groaning even as I mention those other films, then "Zoom" is most definitely not the film for you.

There are films that you have to rush out and see in the theatre, then there are films that are best left for DVD. "Zoom" will be a decent flick for the entire family, but you can easily afford to wait for the DVD.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic