Zoom
This is what I get for having a robot as an agent.

Theatrical Release Date: 08/11/2006
Director: Peter Hewitt
Cast: Tim Allen, Kate Mara, Ryan Newman, Michael Cassidy, Spencer Breslin, Courteney Cox

It looks like the trend of kid superhero movies is here to stay for a while, at least while comic book movie franchises dominate the summer blockbuster scene.

Taking off after last summer’s moderately successful “Sky High”, and now in theaters, is “Zoom”.

If you’ve seen any superhero film, you know the basic idea. The world needs protecting, a team of superheroes is formed, after some time they are either killed or disbanded, then a new evil arises and a new superhero team is needed, cue happy ending.

The formula is kept well intact in “Zoom” and that’s just fine with me. The film is marketed at the under-18 crowd and even for those of us physiologically older but mentally in the right demographic, it is a fun, silly romp.

The “star” of the film is Tim Allen, who thankfully is doing more of a retread on his roles in “Big Trouble” and “Galaxy Quest” rather than “The Shaggy Dog” or “A Santa Claus”. There is a likeability factor with him from his time on the small screen that allows for such an easy transition for him into the family/kids genres.

Playing his love interest is Courteney Cox, who either can’t find a real adult film role (her indie turn in “November” notwithstanding) or is just content to count her “Friends” money all the way to the bank. Not to say I blame her for that.

To add the cheese factor, the filmmakers brought in Chevy Chase and Rip Torn. Torn is yet again a fun caricature for audiences and Chase is actually pretty good in this one. Of course, compared to anything he’s done in the last 15 years, that doesn’t say much. And even more disconcerting is his appearance; it looked like he was having an allergic reaction to a bee sting the entire film.

The best little cameo came from Thomas F. Wilson, who we all know best from “Back to the Future” as Biff, perhaps the most iconic bully on the silver screen short of maybe William Zabka in “The Karate Kid”. (Put him in a body bag, Johnny!)

Now as for the actual core group of kid superheroes, the casting department did a pretty good job on this one. The leader/rebel without a cause is played well enough by Michael Cassidy and the goofy kid with the fairly dumb power of being able to expand parts of his body like a balloon is played with earnestness by Spencer Breslin.

But it’s the girls who steal the show. First, there is the adorable and fun Ryan Newman, who plays a 6-year-old girl with super-strength and a fetish for costume changes. The costume department definitely had fun finding all sorts of little get-ups for her.

Saving the best for last, there is the telekinetic/empath Kate Mara. Probably best known for playing one of Heath Ledger’s daughters in last year’s “Brokeback Mountain”, look for her to try and grab a share of the limelight in the coming years. She’s a good actress and very, very hot. That’s a winning combo in my book.

There are some negatives to the film. At only 83 minutes, you would think the film would feel shorter than it did. Some of the touchy-feely moments felt forced and the music they set them to was atrocious … I literally cringed at how embarrassing it must be for actors sometimes.

Still, at least they threw in a montage of the kids being trained and we all learned in “Team America” that “we’re gonna need a montage”.

Wrapping things up, “Zoom” stacks up as a standard kids film and the type that any discerning adult knows instinctively if they will enjoy it or not. I’m a sucker for these type of films and like a bit of cheese mixed in with cuteness every once in a while, sort of like a palette cleanser for all the Hollywood blockbusters and independent dramas I check out most of the time.

So, no surprises here, I’m giving “Zoom” a 3 out of 5. It does what it’s supposed to do and nothing more, but that’s okay with me. If you liked “Sky High”, you’ll probably like this. It’s not as well made but has just as much fun at heart.