This special effects action comedy is fun for kids and fairly painless for adults. More important, it is a rare film directed at kids from 4th-8th grade, that most neglected of movie audiences. Not surprisingly, it is produced by Nickelodeon, the cable channel dedicated to just that group.
Zak (Jesse Bradford), the son of a loving but preoccupied scientist, accidentally takes a top-secret device, thinking it is a watch. It turns out to be a mechanism for speeding up the metabolic rate of whoever is touching it so that they see the world around them as almost frozen. To the rest of the world, they are moving to fast to be seen. At first, Zak uses it to impress a pretty girl (Paula Garces as Francesca) and together they have fun with some pranks and pay-backs. But then the bad guys come after them, and Zak and Francesca have to save the world.
The plot is a throw-back to the old Disney classics like “The Shaggy Dog” (also with a pretty teenage girl named Francesca) and “The Absent-Minded Professor.” Director Jonathan Frakes (of “Star Trek”) ably handles the sci-fi aspect with special effects that truly are special. We see water droplets suspended in air and a bee floating over a flower. The movie zips along quickly and has a lively pop soundtrack.
Parents should know that there is mild peril, though the guns only shoot ice bullets (to shock the system out of hyper-time) and no one is hurt. Francesca wears some revealing outfits, but she and Zak share only a couple of kisses. The movie features multi-ethnic good and bad guys and Francesca is strong, smart, and brave.
Families who see the movie should talk about the problems of developing technologies that can get into the wrong hands and the problems of balancing commitments to work and family.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy The Rocketeer.