|Index||6 reviews in total|
An alien lands on Earth, seeking to capture a few humans for its intergalactic zoo. One of those films which inspires phrases like "all manner of chaos", "hapless hero", "light-hearted family adventure" and "where's the remote"? And that's all it inspires. Some star names for you: Pat Morita, Brock Pierce, Marcia Strassman and Sam Jones. Get the picture?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was half asleep, on a warm lazy sunny Sunday June afternoon when
thing thing caught my eye. I couldn't figure out where I'd scene the
woman acting like, I guess, some kind of a reporter. She looked
familiar. I waited for the credits. How long could this movie be? I
checked the channel info. Ugh. A hour and half, just about.
It's intriguingly incompetent. The plot, such as it is, is about an alien (who, according to my 3 year old looked more like a robot) who comes to earth to collect specimens for a zoo. I will give you the whole movie but watch out SPOILER WARNING:
*SPOILER WARNING* Most of the action takes place in one family's Liviing Room, specifically, inexplicably, inside of their TV, or in the case of Pat Morita and Sam Jones, I guess *under* the TV (it's very difficult to tell). Then a horribly, hideously bad special effect happens and the picture is all wavy and suddenly a snowstorm happens somewhere else (another movie as far as we can tell) and then a dinosaur eats a wavy worm and then I guess the credits came on. *END SPOILER*
The woman was Rhonda Shear, of USA Network's 90's show "Up All Night" (sorta) fame. You can look her up, right her on IMDb.com.
You could probably get a similar movie by giving a 3 year old a camcorder, and shouting directions at Trees and Mice.
Every so often a film comes along and this is a film. Earth Minus Zero
is, without question, one of the towering cinematic achievements of the
late 20th century. Back in the mid 90's there was a time when it seemed
like everyone was saying 'when will Pat Morita make a film about an
alien building an intergalactic zoo'. So it was with some excitement
when director Joey Travolta - one of the true cinematic visionaries who
is only equalled by Kubrick, Scorsese and Lynch agreed to make such a
movie. With the colossal talents of Pat Morita and Joey Travolta it
really can be no surprise that Earth Minus Zero turned into the
complex, multi-layered masterpiece it was. Its failure to even be
nominated for any Oscars whatsoever is a disgrace that the Academy has
only recently recovered from. Laughably the big awards that year went
to films such as The English Patient, Fargo, Jerry Maguire, Secrets and
Lies and Shine all films that have been more-or-less forgotten, while
Earth Minus Zero continues to top critical film lists and influence
film-making. Without Earth Minus Zero would we have had The Lord of the
Rings trilogy? Yes in fairness we probably would have but that's not
really the point.
Most people remember the movie for primarily two things. One, Pat Morita's multi-nuanced performance as the midget doctor. And secondly for its ground-breaking special effects. When you watch this film you really are taken into another world. You see little people next to giant clothes pegs and books and you immediately think 'there's some little people next to giant clothes pegs and books'; it really is that brilliant in its authentic rendering of it's fantasy world. The effects are often used metaphorically, such as the memorable sequence when one of the characters enters the television set and battles with a dinosaur - that was probably a metaphor for something. Special mention must also be made in regard to the performance of Monty the Dog he really captured the essence of what it is to be a dog in a world full of shrunken people and in many respects puts Lassie, Benji, Hooch and K9 in the shade.
In the final analysis, Earth Minus Zero remains an incredible monument to what can be achieved when image and sound travel together in unison. Joey Travolta never did top this film of course, even if he did go on to direct the outstanding Enemies of Laughter. And even though Pat Morita continued to give quite brilliant performances in films such as Bloodsport 3 and The Karate Dog, this is the movie that everyone will remember him for.
Let me say this from the start. This is not a good movie. But it is an
entertaining one. Just the sheer shoddiness of some of the effects,
acting and directing make this film worth watching, if only so you can
make fun of it with a bunch of friends. It has some genuinely funny (if
unintentionally so) moments and as long as you don't spend any large
amount of money to watch it (I got my copy for 97p) then it is a
delightful romp of crappyness.
Personal highlight: when the shrunken father (played by Sam Jones of Flash Gordon fame) is inhaled up his pet dogs nose.
Also, the inconsistency of the size of shrunken characters provides an endless source of amusement.
The Hellers (Marcia Strassman and Sam J. Jones are the parents) are having their troubles. Mom is the main breadwinner while her inventor husband looks for work and dreams big. Their teenage son is having difficulty at school and their young daughter is overly ga-ga about video games. A shy, retiring Dr. Mobius (Pat Morita) watches over the son at school, from time to time. One day, aliens come down and want to take some earthlings back home. Wouldn't you know, they have a nifty hand-held "shrinker" that turns folks into mouse-size. But, after turning the Heller parents into "shrinks", haha, the teenage son protects his sister by grabbing the device and turning the main alien into a very small one, too. Now, the two Heller kids go off in search of Dr. Mobius, for his help in getting their parents back to normal and kicking some alien bottoms. Can the Doc help? This is a cute little film, not especially great, but, not bad either. The actors are one of the best elements, especially Jones who is quite funny. The other items, costumes, sets, special effects, script and direction, are okay but nothing extraordinary. If your family likes such films as Honey I Shrunk the Kids or Slow Moe, they will probably go for this one, also. Sometimes, a new view makes all the difference in the proverbial "Mommy, I'm bored!".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I liked this movie a lot. It's not meant to be slick science fiction
with awesome special effects, but rather a fun and even
thought-provoking story about families, people's values, and the impact
of Nintendo, virtual reality and nanotechnology on our lives.
I found the acting to be excellent. The wimpy alien who just wanted to go back to his own planet was well played. The children were delightful. The little girl with the squeaky voice was cute, and the older boy was brave and smart but unpretentious at the same time.
The mother had a lot of spunk, while the father was mild mannered but capable of rising to the occasion to defend his family when it was necessary for him to do so. The science teacher was a stereotypical genius with a good heart.
I found the very fake looking special effects to be entertaining. Many of them reminded me of the TV show "Lost in Space." I am going to try to find out if any of these actors went on to bigger things. I wouldn't be surprised if they did.
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