Jack - * 1/2*

Don’t be fooled by the ads. Jack is not a happy-go-lucky comedy. It is definately a comedy-drama, and not a very good one. Jack Powell (Robin Williams) is the first son of Karen (Diane Lane) and Brian (Brian Kerwin). Jack is born with a heretofore unknown disease which causes him to age at four times the normal rate. For ten years, Jack’s parents keep him away from society. They hire a tutor, Lawrence Woodruff (Bill Cosby), to provide his education, and for the most part keep him housebound. As the story opens, the ten-year old Jack finally persuades his parents to let him enter public school. Most of the time, Jack gets bogged down in melodrama, with the adults on whether Jack will live past his childhood, and Jack innocently frollicking with the butterflies. All too often, director Francis Ford Coppola resorts to time-lapsed shots of clouds flying by overhead…hitting us over the head with the idea that time is passing fast for Jack. Come on, we got the premise when Robin Williams was introduced as a 10-year old. Jack gets even weaker, however, when it tries for comedy. The interactions of Jack and his 10-year old peers never ignite. For the most part they are simply reminiscent of the worst parts of Hook: the lost-boys scenes. Robin Williams never quite comes across as a child, but as an adult acting like a child. As for the children…their parts are written poorly. Only in movieland would an entire classroom move from fear and ignorace of the freak, to complete utter acceptance in the span of a day. The adults fare little better, from Bill Cosby’s tutor acting as if he wanted the role of Jack…to Fran Drescher as the sexpot mother of one of Jack’s new friends. The only role that almost has a chance at some depth is that of Jack’s schoolteacher, Miss Marquez (Jennifer Lopez). Yet, the film doesn’t take any chances, and never explores Jack’s feelings toward her, only providing a quickly quelled crush. The end result of this film is a melodramatic version of Big in which the kid can’t go back, and instead will die before his time. What a cheery comedy! Yet, the screenwriters never take advantage of the dramatic possibilities, instead stopping and light slapstick and sentiment. What a waste…

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