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Friday, June 1, 2012

My 100 Worst Movies of the 90's - 16 - Jack (1996)

Jack (1996; Hollywood Pictures)
How does one go from directing what is arguably the greatest movie ever made to directing this dismal, depressing, over-silly, mess?  Jack is the work of Godfather director Francis Ford Copolla.  That sentence breaks my heart because Jack is easily the worst film of Robin Williams’ career, even more so than Old Dogs.  It is an lazy, absurd, film with no depth, no brains, and is filled with characters that are willing to believe just about anything.

The plot follows a boy named Jack who has an unusual genetic trait that causes him to age four times faster than normal.  When he decides he wants to go to school with “normal kids his age” a ten-year-old played by Robin Williams (give me a break) is given a chance by his parents... reluctantly.  When he arrives in the fifth grade class he is met with cruel bullies and a few friends and gets a taste of childhood before his inevitable death.

This is a movie built on a faulty premise.  The disease that causes rapid aging actually exists.  It’s called progeria.  It affects only 40 currently reported cases worldwide.  The flaw with this is this is a tragic disease that results in very early death and disfigurement.  It doesn’t make you turn into Robin Williams!  It isn’t a joke.  This movie casts this desperate forty-something star as a ten year old because we’re meant to find it endearing.  It isn’t.  It’s almost kind of cruel.

Another big problem with this movie is that the performances all around are bad.  By everyone!  Robin Williams, Jennifer Lopez, Diane Lane and especially Fran Drescher not only give forced performances, but they feel almost patronizing.  This movie does not seem so much like it’s talking down to Jack as it is talking down to the viewer.  It has a very sanctimonious attitude about acceptance all the while making a movie-long gag about this character’s age, size and appearance.  Jack is truly boring and so utterly self-satisfied that it actually makes me ill.  I did not enjoy one pathetic moment of this disturbed little movie.

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