SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 12/14/04 13:37:16
The cold, hard truth is this: somebody made a sequel to “Baby Geniuses.” Trying to understand this will only lead to hair pulling, teeth grinding, and hours upon hours of lost sleep. Why would anyone want to make a follow-up to what is universally viewed as one of the very worst movies ever produced is a mystery for the ages, and I found the only way one can come to peace with the existence of “Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2” is to find within one’s self a Zen-like acceptance that there is no understandable answer. There is no why, there only is.One can begin to understand, however, if one looks at the career of Steven Paul. Paul hit early in his career by writing and directing the Jerry Lewis disaster “Slapstick (Of Another Kind),” which, yes, is universally viewed as one of the very worst movies ever produced. He then moved on to producing and/or story development (often both) with a string of low budget and/or direct-to-video (often both) disasters. His list of bottom rung junk includes kinda-familiar titles such as “A Million To Juan” and “Hail Caesar,” as well as a handful of unknown “family features,” including “The Princess and the Barrio Boy,” “The Prince and the Surfer,” “The Double O Kid,” and my personal favorite, “The Karate Dog.” And somewhere along the way, he found time to bring us “Baby Geniuses.”
It’s easy to see, then, that the man will make anything. Which helps in our comprehension of a “Baby Geniuses” sequel - until you factor in the casting of Scott Baio in a major role, and then your brain, which had previously felt as if it was finally starting to grasp all of this, explodes.
Yes, Chachi is here, and if that’s not enough to blow your mind, look who else showed up: Academy Award winning actor Jon Voight. As a dopey ex-Nazi who hopes to brainwash the planet through his children’s cable network.
I have not even gotten to the children yet, and already you should realize that we’re in a whole other area of bad. The only thing keeping this from me hailing this as the worst movie of the year is the fact that I saw “Benji Off the Leash!” just seven days ago.
Let’s get to the plot, shall we? Yes, let’s. Baio plays Stan Bobbins, brother of the character in the first movie who cracked the baby talk language and discovered how babies are geniuses, or whatever. Stan runs a day care center, where he is - sing it with me - in charge of our days and our nights. While Stan’s busy getting ready to sell out his company to media mogul Bill Biscane (Voight), something about using Stan’s property to build a massive broadcast tower and use the children whom he watches as marketing subjects for all of Biscane’s products (not making any of that up, people), Stan’s wife (Vanessa Angel) is the one who actually realizes that somebody should be watching the kids.
She farms that out to neice Kylie (Skyler Shaye), who decides to take four of the tykes for a stroll, unaware that one of the 12-month-olds had overheard Bicane’s henchmen discussing their plot for global domination and therefore must be eliminated. Bad guys attack, but Kylie and the kids are rescued by a secret agent named Kahuna, who’s six years old but drinks a super energy drink from a baby’s bottle (the CIA never heard of sippy cups?). The super energy drink, by the way, turns Kahuna from a smartmouthed brat to a kung fu badass straight out of “The Matrix.”
I tip my hat to screenwriter Gregory Poppen for mixing steroids,child abduction, and espionage into all of this, just as my hat is tipped over his decision to deride crass commercialism in between bizarre product placements for the new Mustang GT. But nothing that has yet appeared on screen matches the incredible insanity of what follows.
You see, Kylie and the kids are taken back to Kahuna’s secret lair, hidden behind the Hollywood sign. There they will stay the night and prep for their confrontation with Biscane, whom we learn is a former Nazi bent on typical Nazi stuff. But what of Stan and his wife? Surely they’re concerned with the absence of the children (one of whom is their own son), right?
Nope. Kahuna has super-holograms, and one of them - that of a cop - calls up Stan on the ol’ video phone and tells them that he’s with the San Francisco police, and Kylie and the kids “walked too far,” and the cops will get the kids a hotel for the night, and don’t bother coming to pick them up, since the highways are too backed up.
And Stan buys this. Stan buys the idea that Kylie and four toddlers strolled all the way from L.A. to an Francisco. Stan buys the idea that the cops would hook them up with a suite at the Four Seasons. And Stan turns to say to his wife, “Yeah, let’s just get ‘em in the morning, since it’ll take a few hours to get up there.”
I understand that this was just a cheaply convenient plot ploy, and that the filmmakers were hoping nobody would notice, or at least care. And yet this scene leaves me floored with its unending stupidity, topped with the knowledge that the filmmakers thought so badly of the audience that they felt we would take this sequence without question.
I have not yet mentioned that the toddlers - not babies at all - once again all talk in badly dubbed grown-up English (the token black kid speaks only in hip hop slang, though, and how insulting is that?), with piss-poor “Clutch Cargo”-ish special effects. In this regard, “Superbabies” is a retread of the original.
But what of the insane decision to leave all of the kids in diapers throughout the film? I don’t know what kind of day care Stan’s running here, but the programs I know ask you to put pants on your kids. Did the filmmakers not think we’d know they were toddlers unless we saw Huggies?
And what of the scene in which Kahuna is captured, and his captors remove his various weaponry - which includes a shotgun and various pistols. Kids with guns. Now that’s a fun movie.
“Superbabies” was directed by Bob Clark, the same Bob Clark who once directed “A Christmas Story,” which remains one of the finest pieces of family entertainment crafted by Hollywood. And now he’s here, directing “Baby Geniuses 2.” To watch this new movie is to wonder how a man who once displayed such comic genius and expert direction could ever turn out a film that looks by all accounts to be the work of an amateur and best and an incompetent hack at worst. “Superbabies” is a sloppy, clumsy, unwatchable project, the sort of intellectually offensive children’s movie one would make if one knew nothing about children. It strains at times for a much needed sense of wonder (Kahuna’s lair is a copy of Willy Wonka’s factory), and its efforts to wow young viewers with nothing but clunky action and the occasional flight of fancy (Kahuna’s “Imagination Station” means well but is pure awfulness) land with a loud, obnoxious thud.
The entire essence of the picture can be summed up in one small exchange of dialogue. A CD, valuable in a vague way to the plot, has landed in Kylie’s possession. She finds it, and then asks her teenage pal, “What’s this?” His reply: “I don’t know. Does it have a label on it?” To which Kylie responds, “I’m not sure.”“I’m not sure?” Just look at the friggin’ thing! Argh!! This movie is populated with morons, imbeciles, and idiots, often with characters trading one of these roles for another. Which makes me worry about that old writing addage: “write what you know.” If you get my insult.
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