One of the true tests of greatness for a movie mainly geared for a younger audience (as I'm sure I've said before) is its ability to be enjoyed by more than just said audience, for it to find a wider appeal in the marketplace. Make a kids movie that parents clearly will not enjoy and you'll find that parents opt to not buy tickets. Make a kids movie which appeals to parents as well and you stand a much better shot at garnering big numbers from the box office. Of course, the parents might find themselves duped, what appears to have some appeal for them initially may prove to be a disappointment. Case in point, the newly released to Blu-ray Race to Witch Mountain.
The film, directed by Andy Fickman (The Game Plan), is based on the 1968 novel Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key. In 1975 Disney already turned the novel into a film and even made a sequel, Return From Witch Mountain, in 1978, but clearly someone thought it was worth another look today. And that is the appeal for parents of the kids/tweens hat this film is geared towards – nostalgia. Parents can instantly be hooked into going to see this remake/reimagining out of fond feelings for the original film from their own childhood 30-plus years ago. Nostalgia is a powerful tool and can make people do things that they will regret, things like watching Race to Witch Mountain.
The film, which follows the adventures of an ex-con cabbie in Las Vegas, Jack Bruno (Dwayne Johnson, FKA The Rock) and two alien kids, Sara (AnnaSophia Robb) and Seth (Alexander Ludwig) will most assuredly delight older children and tweens. It will not, however, win over any adults.
The basic plot – which is full of holes large enough to drive Jack Bruno's cab through – involves Sara and Seth crash landing on Earth so that they can pick up information which will save their planet as well as ours. They randomly happen upon Jack Bruno's cab and Jack, being the nice, reformed ex-con that he is, opts to drive the kids to the middle of nowhere with government agents chasing them and destroying their cab. A quick pitstop in Vegas allows them to meet up with a discredited Astrophysicist, Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino), and along their way they also run into Cheech Marin and Garry Marshall (not as themselves, but only the adults in the audience will be able to make heads or tails of their appearances anyway).