Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

ATTENTION ALL CARS, ATTENTION ALL CARS!!! We have an all points bulletin. Be on the lookout for a six foot four inch, two hundred and forty five pound muscle bound male of mixed race, driving a bright yellow beat up taxi with a HUGE triangular advertisement billboard stuck to its roof and carting around a pair of teenagers who LOOK like they’re from Sweden but are actually a couple of aliens from the planet Nebulous 7… or somewhere. Now armed with that knowledge one would think that even Barney Fife wouldn’t have too much trouble finding that trio, especially when they toss in a gloriously over-developed fourth member in the heavenly visage of one Carla Gugino, but doggone it if our highly trained government operatives didn’t have all kinds of trouble securing this eclectic package of muscles, femininity, and EBE’s in Disney’s hectic and frenetic ‘Race to Witch Mountain’.

Duane Johnson is emotionally tortured Las Vegas cabbie Jack Bruno, a man who has gotten in a little trouble back in the day, but is doing his best to stay on the straight and narrow. Might want to leave Las Vegas Jack. Just a suggestion. After beating up a couple of bad men who want Jack to get back into the ‘game’, our hero jumps in his cab and finds a pair of Swedish looking teens in his back seat in Seth (Alexander Ludwig) and Sara (Anna Sophia Robb). These kids require that the cabbie take them to a location out in the middle of nowhere, give Jack a boatload full of loot for his time, and off they go. What Jack doesn’t know right now is that Seth and Sara are aliens sent here to save our planet. One thing we know for sure about our planet Earth, at least judging from past SciFi movies, is that it is just about perfect for alien races who have screwed up their own planet and a need a new place to roost, and that’s what Seth and Sara are here to keep from happening.

This task is complicated by the fact the evil military of Nebulous 7 – I had to call their planet something – has dispatched an indestructible, laser wielding, single minded of purpose assassin to kill this pair of Swedes who have somehow crashed their ship on our humble planet in their efforts to save us. To say that there’s trouble for our trio is the understatement of the year as they are being relentlessly pursued by this incredibly violent assassin, in addition to the forces of the borderline evil government chief in charge of wrangling aliens Henry Burke (Ciaran Hinds), who wants these kids in his possession so he can… well… dissect them it would appear. The only thing standing between these kids and death or dissection is one crazy UFO doctor (Gugino) and a former car thief, current cab driver who, and trust me when I tell you this, is a wheelman like no other. The odds have just been tipped in our favor people.

I don’t know if this is a good thing or not but ‘Race to Witch Mountain’ has got to be the most violent Disney branded movie I think I’ve seen. The Rock punches people in the face, smashes dudes into parked cars, kicks people through plate glass windows repeatedly, in addition to the man himself suffering through similar beatdowns at the hand of this alien assassin. They shoot more bullets in this flick than in all the Rambo movies combined, not to mention the numerous explosions and crashes, but nobody really dies which I guess preserves this movies PG rating.

I suppose the question, as always, would be is ‘Race to Witch Mountain’ any good? Well of course it’s not if you’re definition of good is a story filled with logic and perhaps a semblance of reason… but that’s not how we define ‘good’ over here. We don’t mind total nonsense as long as the story doesn’t slow down enough to allow us to ponder on how ridiculous the story might be and ‘Race to Witch Mountain’ rarely pauses long enough for us to allow those troublesome doubts to creep in. Cars crash, punches are thrown and lasers are shot at a rapid pace and if the movie goes like more than three minutes without some action piece, director Andy Frickman’s internal action clock rang in his brain and he made sure he blew something up to get things moving along again. Dialog be damned.

Another thing that propels the movie is one Duane Johnson who definitely has a certain presence on the screen and seems to be completely at ease in front of the camera and is probably the best wrestler turned actor ever. That’s high praise you know. Mr. Johnson uses his natural charm to maximum effect, the kids playing the aliens are subsequently cute and I think this is the fourth movie I’ve seen Carla Gugino in this week alone, and even that’s not enough.

I haven’t seen the original ‘Escape from Witch Mountain’ since it first came out, and I was around seven at the time so I really have no reference for this re-imagining, but for a completely disposable and relatively harmless, admittedly overly violent for a kids movie piece entertainment… I liked this nonsense. Who knew a 98 Grand Marquis cab could out duel a laser equipped space ship? Who knew?

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