CHILDHOOD REVISITED – THEODORE REX


The drug scene in Fear and Loathing, on drugs.

The drug scene in Fear and Loathing, on drugs.

Theodore Rex – (1996)

Director: Jonathan R. Betuel
Starring: Whoopi Goldberg, George Newborn, Carol Kane, Juliet Landau, Richard Roundtree
Screenplay by: Jonathan R. Betuel

As the days passed and the moment to watching this movie approached, signs from, I assume God himself, seemed to attack me at all sides trying to hold me back from seeing this film. AVClub’s “abomination” review. Commenters on the site here. Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic didn’t even bother to review it, and IMDB barely gave it a two-star rating. It seems forces beyond my control were trying to save me one hour and thirty minutes of my life.

However, I made a promise to sit through all of my childhood favorites, good and bad, and I am determined to follow through to the end. Also, this gives me an opportunity to rail on the movie in hilarious fashion if it’s as bad as everyone says it is (I love reviews on terrible forms of entertainment; they tend to be hilarious). Whoopi herself—you know, the gal who played a Knicks basketball coach, a white man, and, worst of all, dated Ted Danson, tried desperately to bail from the movie during filming, but couldn’t. Oh, what a tangled web we weave, Whoopi.

NOSTALGIC LENS: Nothing much. I want to say that I, at some level, liked this movie as a child, but I don’t think my affinity for it was geared towards the actual movie, but the concept. I always enjoyed the idea of imaginary forms living among humans: toons, like Who Framed Roger Rabbit; dragons, like Dragonheart; and even dinosaurs, like the movie here. But considering I don’t remember the plot at all (although I remember that their tails contain the genetic differences like a human’s fingerprints), perhaps something deep down inside me hated it. Still, I did watch it more than once.

DOES IT HOLD UP: This movie is awful. Just awful. It’s not the sad, pathetic life-defeating work that Rabin claimed, but I can understand the sentiment.

There are many, many problems with this movie, which ultimately amounts to a poorly conceived Athiest/Christian pseudo-dystopian Utopia on Sesame Street in the same world as Dinosaurs. Yes, that doesn’t make sense, because the movie is that nonsensical.

When a dinosaur and a human are found dead, the chief of police, who is SHAFT, forces Whoopi Goldberg’s character and some immature Tyrannosaurus to team up to find the culprits. Why Shaft doesn’t do the shit himself is beyond me; seeing worry about his state in the polls is absolutely mind-boggling and against everything I knew about world.

Well, some generic discovery stuff occurs, and it all leads to a corporation called Eden that just AWESOME at restoring extinct animals to life. There’s an intriguing scene that explains in pseudo-scientific details how the process occurs during a tour—no, wait, that’s Jurassic Park. There’s NO explanation on how Eden does what it does. It just can. The leader of Eden is planning to re-create a new Ice Age, in his image with some sort of rocket. The plot, absurdly, is explained in a narration AND Star Wars-like rolling intro (starting at 1:38):

Why the hell is this even here? How dumb do you think your audience is?

Beyond the terrible puppetry and overall shitty acting, the main problem with the story is how utterly contrived it is. Everything is completely designed to forward the plot and, I guess, character development, without fitting organically in the story. Everything other decision is just fucking random. Is there any reason why Goldberg’s character is a robot? Why does Teddy like cookies so much? Where the hell does the “anti-gun” attitude come from in the end? There’s an absolutely inane moment in the center of the movie where they have to change Teddy’s clothing with some innocuous Star Trek-like transformer machine; why would the police have Vikings/Mexican/Hawaiian/Scottish outfits programed in it? Are they freelancing as a gay brothel at night?

This atrociousness is unbearable from the first frame onward; I don’t think there’s an endearing moment in the entire thing. I was on edge during most of it, but the worse moment probably was when a random kid is kidnapped through a random arcade game made of paper at the end of that clip. I… I can’t even describe it. Watch it. Just… just fucking watch it! It’s incredible.

Actually, don’t. It’s not worth it.

IN A NUTSHELL: Just terrible. Anyone could have made a better movie, including 4 year-olds, disabled vets, and even Shyamalan. I made a sacrifice for everyone so you didn’t have to watch this; I should have listened to everyone else, though. Still, it’s a learning experience in a way… now I know the kind of things never to do when writing or filming a movie.

October 12th: The NeverEnding Story
October 19th: VACATION

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  1. #1 by redfoxfan on October 6, 2009 - 1:58 am

    I think one could teach an entire film class from this film alone.

  2. #2 by Jon on October 6, 2009 - 12:33 pm

    Thanks for the heads-up. I was actually planning that movie for my Dinosaur film festival–but no longer! Shall stay away. Thanks for the clips, though. Very odd “clothing” machine. Of course, how else do you dress a T. Rex without getting your head bit off?

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