Race to Witch Mountain (review)

It’s the kind of movie that’s chock full of too many rote car chases and bad guys who spout clichés like “I could have had you shot just for trespassing on U.S. government property” as if they want you to shout out the inevitable followup question: “So why didn’t you?” And still you can’t utterly condemn Race to Witch Mountain, because even as it’s completely generic and doesn’t really do much justice to its progenitors (I plan to review the original Escape to Witch Mountain and its sequel, Return From Witch Mountain, this week), it is, at least, a kids’ movie that doesn’t resort to even a single fart joke and doesn’t talk down to its young audience. Alas that that sets it apart in the current movie environment, but it does. Dwayne Johnson (Get Smart) — we’re not supposed to call him “The Rock” anymore, but that’s how I still think of him, and fondly, even though I was never a WWF fan — is a Las Vegas cab driver whose latest fare is a pair of pretty blond teenage siblings (AnnaSophia Robb [Jumper] and Alexander Ludwig [The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising]) who, wouldn’tja know it, turn out to be aliens trying to get back to their UFO ride, which has been spirited away to a secret government facility in the desert known as Witch Mountain. Don’t bother with the film at all if you’re not a fan of Johnson, or of the woefully underappreciated Carla Gugino (Watchmen), who appears here as an expert in all things alien who teams up with the kids in their quest, but if you are, it’s not a total waste of your entertainment time and money. Only mostly so. And the gods of geekdom help me, but I did chuckle at some of the funny business at the Vegas UFO convention, even if it was stolen from Galaxy Quest.

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