Blockbuster Beat by Andrew Thornton Film

Race to Witch Mountain — Andy Fickman

March 19, 2009

Here comes another remake of a Disney classic. In the 1970s Witch Mountain series, which included a couple of theatrical releases and some made-for-TV movies, two alien kids and a lonely widower save the planet Earth. In the new version, the lonely widower is replaced by an ex-con cabdriver, Jack Bruno (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), but it’s the same save-the-world, then-get-back-home adventure: only a lot less fun. The kids, played by AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig, spend most of the movie sitting blankly in the back seat of the cab while Bruno speeds them away from an extraterrestrial hitman and an evil government operative. Dr. Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino) hails the wild taxi, and they’re off to Witch Mountain. Simple as that.

Dwayne Johnson, as Bruno, is clearly the star of Witch Mountain, but if you’ve seen the commercial, you’ve seen most of the kids’ psychic powers. Johnson seems to be having a great time racing the little aliens and the pretty scientist around in his cab, but the rest of the cast, including the kids (and especially Guigino) — not so much. Even the CGI effects are disappointing for such a mega-merchandised, 2009 release. My parents introduced me to all of the Disney classics. I saw The Shaggy Dog, The Absent Minded Professor, The Parent Trap, and Escape to Witch Mountain more times than I can remember. These movies kept kids entertained without making parents run screaming for the nearest exit, but, the recent onslaught on remakes, Race to Witch Mountain included, fails to capture even a fraction of the charm of the originals. Sure, there are some fun scenes in the new in this update version, and Dwayne Johnson is more than up for it, but sometimes the past really is best left alone.