Thursday, July 30, 2009

Race to Witch Mountain

By David Luhrssen
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Disney’s Race to Witch Mountain (out Aug. 4 on DVD and Blu-ray) is a modestly entertaining kids’ movie, adolescent division. Adult science fiction fans will have seen the story before with its UFOs and government cover-ups, good aliens and bad aliens and grim-faced federal agents dispatched to the scene of saucer landings. The twist is that the good aliens are a blond, Aryan-looking brother-sister duo speaking in slightly stilted, Berlitz English—utterly without contractions. On the run from bad aliens and the feds, they are befriended by a cabbie with a criminal record and a heart of gold.

Even within the movie’s zone of suspended disbelief, the plot can sometimes seem at loose ends. But the pacing is swift and economical and the overall caliber is considerably raised by the performance of Dwayne Johnson as the cab driver. Pursued by his former criminal associates, by the men in black and the bad E.T., he’s a raw-boned figure of street-tested integrity that becomes a reluctant hero.

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