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The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl
2005 - PG - 95 Mins.
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Producer: Elizabeth Avellan and Robert Rodriguez
Written By: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Cayden Boyd, Taylor Lautner, Taylor Dooley, Jacob Davich and Kristin Davis
Review by: Bill King
Official Site:

If your bathtub is your swimming pool, you might be a redneck.
'The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl' in 3-D is bad enough already, but the addition of 3-D effects actually makes it worse. I don't know what Robert Rodriguez's fixation is with 3-D, and I don't care to understand it. The majority of his film is very dark, with heightened shadow detail and pale-skinned characters. This is because we have to wear those ancient blue and red glasses, which creates the desired three-dimensional effects, but also dominates over every other color on the screen. It looks like we're watching the movie through a stained-glass window.

While watching this so-called family movie, one of the emptiest and unsatisfying I've ever seen, I actually conjured up memories from my youth, when I went to Disneyland and saw Francis Ford Coppola's 'Captain EO,' starring Michael "I love children" Jackson. This is a short film that premiered in 1986, and the folks who made it realized something that Rodriguez has yet to learn: Blue and red glasses are distracting. As a result, they used a different filming process and a newer kind of glasses to produce a better 3-D effect, and indeed Universal Studios uses the same technique with 'T2 3-D' and 'Shrek 4-D' today.

Even if this were a straight film without any gimmicky 3-D, it would still suffer a large list of problems. Max (Cayden Boyd) is a dreamer. He created imaginary heroes Shark Boy and Lava Girl in his mind, due to his inability to make friends at school. It doesn't help at all when he stands in front of the classroom to tell everybody about how he spent his summer with Shark Boy. Through an amazing circumstance, Shark Boy and Lava Girl (Taylor Lautner and Taylor Dooley) actually show up in Max's classroom. They need his help to save their world from disaster.

For reasons completely unexplained, and thankfully so, Max's dreams have all achieved physical form on a planet just outside our solar system. Since the nearest star to our own is Proxima Centauri, over four light years away, I would venture to say that "just outside our solar system" is stretching things a bit. Whatever the case, Max and his two half-baked X-Men journey to the planet Drool, where they encounter beings and landscapes formulated completely out of Max's mind. Among the things I saw were an old 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System and the original Gameboy. How a grade school kid in 2005 would dream of such things, I have no idea.

Max, Shark Boy and Lava Girl negotiate various obstacles on their way to save the land of Drool from erasure. It's like 'The Neverending Story,' in that sense, but it totally lacks any kind of imagination, memorable dialogue, exciting action, scary moments and satisfying villains. Most of the action is staged so that characters can stick their fists into the camera, or throw things at it, so that the 3-D effect can catch us off guard. It worked a few times, but what really caught me off guard was the script's lousy scenario. It's replete with unhelpful scenes that offer a lot of gibberish over the rules of this land and how Max has to discover his "powers" in order to defeat the bad guys.

This movie, the title of which will undoubtedly be the longest of the year, is a maddening creature. It's not as corrupt as 'Are We There Yet?', but it displays tremendous irresponsibility all the same. I don't expect all children's entertainment to be an education experience. However, I do expect children's entertainment to put some effort into a decent script and include some interesting characters. Interestingly, Rodriguez's 7-year-old son concocted the story of Shark Boy and Lava Girl. This actually reminds me of an episode of the "The Simpsons," in which Homer designed his idea of a dream car. It turned out to be piece of junk, and he put the car company out of business. Interpret this analogy as you see fit.
Movie Guru Rating
Unwatchable.  One of the worst of the year.  Skip it.
  0.5 out of 5 stars

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