Seemingly cobbled together out of spare parts from Hollywood’s junk drawer, Zoom will appeal to anyone who thinks there’s nothing funnier than projectile bodily fluids, stupid characters repeatedly falling down, and Tim Allen’s infamous Home Improvement grunting. The former tool man plays Jack Shepard, a.k.a. retired superhero Zoom, now a grizzled auto mechanic haunted by a past that saw his brother Connor—superhero alias Concussion, played with minimal enthusiasm by Kevin Zegers—corrupted by the forces of evil before seemingly getting killed, only to be discovered again 30 years later, traveling back to Earth by means of a dimensional rift. His own superpowers waning, a reluctant Zoom must return to his former military headquarters to train the newest batch of superhero underlings, a foursome of stock personas whose developing powers must quickly be harvested lest the entire world be at the mercy of the returning villain.
Family-friendly premise notwithstanding, this seemingly innocuous fare scarcely hides the contempt most studio executives must harbor for their audiences. Zoom starts off running on fumes; a lazily rendered comic book-style animation sequence sets up the plot in perfunctory pre-opening credits fashion, while the ongoing narrative relies heavily upon an uninspired medley of Smash Mouth tunes, ’80s cover songs, and recent Top 40 hits to instill a sense emotion into its empty body (one that is content to go through the motions of teamwork-building montages, motivation-less character conflicts, and speeches about the value of individuality and the importance of family). Save for the occasional mandatory shot of the countdown to certain doom, most of the film’s midsection could be rearranged in any order with little to nothing lost (many scenes are bisected by a cheesy animation of the superhero team’s logo, seemingly an effort at masking the abrupt tonal shifts), while the attempts at sentimental significance take the route of cutesy but hollow rhetoric.
Even Chevy Chase looks embarrassed to be here, and who can blame him? While The Incredibles examined the social ramifications and adult/child power structures that extended from its characters’ unique gifts to sterling effect, Zoom simply mines the concept for all its worth in the department of Saturday-morning cartoon humor. A quick perusal of the film’s IMDb message board yields a thread topic entitled “Dear God Why.” My thoughts exactly.