Thunder Jack and Dentist Ted. Oscar winners Coburn and Gooding take leave of their senses
dir Brian Levant|
scr Jim Kouf, Tommy Swerdlow, Michael Goldberg, Mark Gibson, Philip Halprin
with Cuba Gooding Jr, James Coburn, Joanna Bacalso, Nichelle Nichols, Sisqo, M Emmet Walsh, Brian Doyle Murray, Graham Greene, Jean-Michel Pare, Ron Small, Allison Matthews, Michael Bolton
release US 18.Jan.02; UK 31.May.02
This is one of those worryingly bad films that makes you question the sanity of Academy Award winning actors--two of them appear here, and the film is so mind-bogglingly awful that it may just prove the corollary to the "more than four writers equals a dud" rule: "Beware comedies featuring more than one Oscar winner." (Other evidence: Instinct, Pearl Harbor, Men of Honor, What Dreams May Come, Rat Race ... oh wait, maybe this only applies to Gooding!) But I digress.
This is the resolutely unfunny tale of a successful Miami dentist (Gooding) who when his biological mom dies in Arctic Alaska discovers he was adopted (by Lt Uhura, aka Nichols, overacting shamelessly). When he goes to sort out her estate, he discovers that his bio-dad is the grizzled sled-dogger Thunder Jack (Coburn), he falls for the local Eskimo babe (Bacalso), and he gets caught up in the big Arctic Challenge dogsled race. Wacky antics ensue, as could only be envisioned by the director who made both Flintstones movies.
Everything is overdone--acting, design, stunts, story. And yet, the film doesn't have the nerve to go for broke as a completely insane spoof, it tries to have its slapstick and keep its sentiment too. Not one chance is missed to wring syrup from the script, and when that fails the filmmakers go for cute closeups of the doggies (easily the best thing about the film). If all this isn't bad enough, the filmmakers squander their Northern Exposure rip-off plot by trivialising everything and relentlessly attempting to get a big guffaw in every scene. This means performances so broad they actually make you wince, with life-threatening situations yucked up for laugh value. Even the gorgeous scenery looks flat. Shockingly bad.
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