A couple weeks ago, Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 had the rare distinction of briefly unseating the obstinate Manos: The Hands of Fate—the film that MST3K single-handedly popularized as the “official worst movie of all time” (whither Plan 9)—from its perch atop the IMDb’s list of 100 worst movies. Why? Let’s count the ways. First, it’s an unnecessary sequel to a non-hit that almost everyone loathed immediately, connected only by the repeat casting of the Fitzgerald triplets (likely the sons of the film’s uncredited co-producers). Second, because it’s been five years since the first Baby Geniuses and the triplets are decidedly no longer “babies,” per se, they have been recast as a leather-clad spy hero called Kahuna, a grade school-aged whiz kid who hides out in a lair (imagine if a Romanian dungeon were submitted to an episode of Trading Spaces sponsored by F.A.O. Schwartz) and fronts a worldwide organization dedicated to keeping babies safe from danger. Oh, and low toddler self-esteem. (“You can do anything. All you have to do is be-leeeeeve in yourself!”) Third, portraying Kahuna’s arch-nemesis Bill Biscane is none other than Jon Voight, who can always be depended on to commit career seppuku for a few larfs. Here, Voight adapts a faux-German accent so transparent deaf people could read Braille through it. To make matters worse, Voight’s gonzo stylings force the kid actor who plays Bill as a teenager (in one of the film’s flashback sequences essentially protracting the surprise “twist” ending: that Bill and Kahuna are actually brothers) to try to harness the same accent, apropos of absolutely nothing. (“I feel more German than American,” he hisses after losing a baseball game to the eternally 7-year-old powerhouse.) Fourth, the central conflict of the film—Biscane is attempting to control the awesome brain power of the world’s baby population with a mind-controlling bit of kid-TV fluff—is a lame anti-media “satire” that’s admittedly rendered pretty convincing given the media evidence on display here. Fifth, any way you cut it, there’s something unsettling about the entire concept of turning the young’uns into all-grown-up superheroes. The identity role-playing and inadvertently sapiosexual elements are like a dinner bell for chicken hawks who like their meat all different varieties of tenderness. Incidentally, these are all reasons why the pile of crap is remarkably difficult to stop watching, though it’s a far cry from the sui generis awfulness that marked the first one. It’s little more than a camp primer for the Huggies Pull-Ups crowd. And I’d be remiss in my duties as a writer for Slant if I didn’t note the throwaway bit where Kahuna shruggingly puts the videophone call from Dubya on hold. Take that, Mr. President!
- Triumph Films
- 88 min
- Bob Clark
- Gregory Poppen
- Jon Voight, Scott Baio, Vanessa Angel, Peter Wingfield, Justin Chatwin, Anastasia Trovato, Skyler Shaye, Leo Fitzgerald, Gerry Fitzgerald, Myles Fitzgerald
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