January 16, 1998 in Seven

‘Star Kid’ Twinkles With Fun

Robert Philpot Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“Star Kid” is, as you’ve probably guessed, about a kid. Twelve-year-old Spencer (“Jurassic Park’s” Joseph Mazzello) is a real hard-luck case: His mom is dead, his dad is a workaholic, and his older sister calls him “the fungus” even though she’s the one who wears these really putrid-looking multizippered yellow leather pants.

What you might not have figured out is that the “star” in the title refers to what happens when Spencer’s life is touched by the Trelkins, good-guy aliens who look like a cross between an Ewok and Ross Perot. When their secret-weapon Cyborsuit lands on Earth, Spencer’s the one to find it. The Cyborsuit (or “Cy,” for short), which from the outside looks like the offspring of Shaquille O’Neal and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, needs a host to drive it.

Once Spencer dons the suit, he does what any 12-year-old would do: He takes revenge on the bully and checks out the pretty girl. Whether the movie’s telling kids that vindictiveness and pre-adolescent stalking are the way to go is up for debate, but face it, Spencer is just acting like a normal kid. Sure, your kid isn’t like that, but everyone else’s is.

The fun stops, though, when a Broodwarrior - a Trelkin enemy that looks like a cross between a stegosaurus and a bramble bush - comes looking for Cy. Naturally, Spence teams up with Cy to battle the Broodwarrior and protect the future of mankind, learning about courage while teaching the alien about heart and brains.

As you can tell, we’re not exactly talking “E.T.” here, but in its own modest way “Star Kid” is kinda dumb fun, and it beats most of what has passed for recent children’s entertainment simply by not being mean-spirited and/or money-grubbing. The visual effects, by Thomas C. Rainone (“Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”), aren’t up to his usual standard, but his flying bug/ spider/rattler gizmo is the coolest thing in the movie.

“Star Kid’s” chief annoyance is a father who won’t believe Spencer’s tale about aliens even though there’s a 7-foot hole in the wall of his living room. There’s one thing the movies have taught us: If your kids tell you about something strange, whether it be a basketball-playing dog or an alien war on Earth, at least give ‘em the benefit of the doubt.

xxxx “STAR KID” Location: East Sprague, North Division and Showboat cinemas Credits: Directed by Manny Coto, starring Joseph Mazzello, Richard Gilliland, Corinne Bohrer, Joey Simmrin, Ashlee Levitch Running time: 1:41 Rating: PG

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