No matter how hard he tries, Robert Rodriguez can’t make 3-D tolerable or cool, a fact proven by 2003’s atrocious Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over and now reconfirmed by the equally eye-straining The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl in 3-D. Rodriguez’s latest foray into assaultive gimmickry is a family film in the truest sense of the word, having been produced by his wife and conceived/co-written by his eight-year-old son Racer Max. Its sub-Disney Channel narrative, about a young boy named Max (Cayden Boyd) whose vivid dreams about the titular superheroes (Taylor Lautner and Taylor Dooley, respectively) come true, thereby proving the vital power of imagination, reflects its author’s adolescence. Set largely in a three-dimensional Oz-like world called Planet Drool, where milk rivers drift through cookie mountains and pretty ice princesses live in frozen castles, the film follows Max as he learns how to harness his dream powers, teaches a nasty bully (Jacob Davich) how to play nice, and helps his unhappy parents (an embarrassingly bad David Arquette and Kristin Davis) rediscover their love for each other. As with the director’s prior effort requiring the use of red-and-blue glasses, Sharkboy & Lavagirl‘s fuzzy, indistinct effects, primarily used to make assorted liquids and pointing fingers protrude from the screen, are tediously pedestrian and, after roughly a half-hour, physically unpleasant. And when not lavishing attention on its CGI-infested action, Rodriguez’s film is just plain weird, whether it’s hinting at a romantic attraction between Max and Lavagirl and then equating the superheroine with Max’s mom (thus creating some strange pseudo-incestuous undercurrents), or forcing a cheery George Lopez (in a duel role as Max’s teacher Mr. Electricidad and evil Planet Drool villain Mr. Electric) to refer to his nefarious alter-ego as having a “brown face.” Attempting to deliver a positive message about the importance of creative aspirations, the 94-minute Sharkboy & Lavagirl instead merely succeeds in repeating the word “dream” approximately 10,000 times. Though for anyone unlucky enough to sit through the film, at least Sharkboy offers up a piece of sage advice when he remarks, “You snooze, you win.”
- Robert Rodriguez
- Racer Max, Robert Rodriguez
- Cayden Boyd, Taylor Lautner, Taylor Dooley, David Arquette, Krisin Davis, George Lopez, Jacob Davich, Sasha Pieterse
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