In Hollywood, the Mouse doesn’t squeak. It roars.
On the strength of both its animated features (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Toy Story,” etc.), and its various non-animated releases (“Dangerous Minds”), Disney has become one of the most successful studios in Hollywood.
But not everything the Mouse makes is in such company. Some of the film’s lesser products, in fact, are … well, cheesy.
Take two of the week’s video releases.
“The Big Green” is a derivative bit of fluff that tries to combine the tired “Rocky” theme with young America’s love of soccer. It becomes, then, a sort of “Mighty Ducks” in cleats - without being that good.
It stars a gaggle of photogenic teens who, we’re supposed to believe, live in a small Texas town (called Elma) that has seen better times (its high school, nicknamed The Big Green, once won the state football championship).
Now it’s a town of losers that comes alive only when a visiting teacher (Olivia D’Abo) attempts to teach it soccer, aided by the town’s Deputy Dawg sheriff (Steve Guttenberg).
Of course, the team is terrible at first. But, of course, it improves when a new student (with Latino roots) joins up. And, of course, it ends up in a game of pride with a cocky team of overprivileged jerks coached by the arrogant father (Jay O. Sanders) of the team’s top player.
Guess what happens?
Then, if object moral lessons don’t grow like mold, we have “A Kid in King Arthur’s Court.” With apologies to Mark Twain’s novel “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” this new version features Thomas Ian Nicholas.
If that name sounds familiar, then you probably saw the 1993 film “Rookie of the Year.” In that one, Nicholas played a kid who, after an arm operation gives him a superhuman fastball, leads the Chicago Cubs to a World Series title.
“Kid” takes up where “Rookie” left off, following the player’s loss of power. Now he’s an intimidated Little Leaguer who, unaccountably, is sent back to the time of King Arthur, where he not only befriends the king, falls in love with Arthur’s princess and foils the actions of the villain, but he also learns a lesson about self-confidence and bravery.
“The Big Green” *-1/2 Rated PG “A Kid in King Arthur’s Court” *-1/2 Rated PG
Robert Rodriguez earned his reputation by directing, for a reported $7,000, the violent little thriller “El Mariachi.” Antonio Banderas stars in this sequel, and if anything a higher budget has provided Rodriguez even more opportunities to work out his violent fantasies. It’s a clever production, with vigilante Banderas and Steve Buscemi providing the humorous touches, but too much bloodletting - even done in cartoon fashion - can be a wearying experience. Rated R
Something to Talk About
Like most other heartfelt, mainstream efforts, this little comedy-drama-romance tries to be too many things at once. It offers interesting characters, puts them in interesting situations but then doesn’t give us enough background to understand either who they are or why they do what they do. In short, Julia Roberts, stressed out from working for her self-absorbed father (Robert Duvall), goes over the edge when she discovers that her husband (Dennis Quaid) has been cheating on her. Her mother (Gena Rowlands) is no help, and her sister (Kyra Sedgwick) is good only for support. There’s also a neglected daughter , a handsome horse owner and the obligatory plot McGuffin - an upcoming riding championships. Rated R.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: WHAT’S NEW TO VIEW “Desperado” (Columbia TriStar), “The Big Green” (Disney), “A Kid in King Arthur’s Court” (Disney), “National Lampoon’s Senior Trip” (New Line), “Something to Talk About” (Warner), “Kids” (Vidmark). Available on Tuesday: “The Usual Suspects” (Polygram), “Under Siege 2: Dark Territory” (Warner), “Dangerous Minds” (Buena Vista), “Bushwacked” (Fox).