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Baby Geniuses

Review by Gregory Avery
Posted 12 March 1999

  Directed by Bob Clark

Starring Kathleen Turner, Christopher Lloyd,
Peter MacNicol, Kim Cattrall, Dom DeLuise,
Kyle Howard, Kaye Ballard and Ruby Dee.

Screenplay by Clark and Greg Michael;
story by Steven Paul, Francisca Matos
and Robert Grasmere

I gave up on Baby Geniuses at the point where one of the kids was turned loose in an empty Macy's department store, and the screen became flooded with product placements.

The story has something to do with toddlers being raised in a laboratory, from which they try to escape, who have phenomenally high I.Q.'s and can converse fluently with each other (though not with adults). So what are these brilliant young minds shown talking about? Quantum physics? Behavioral patterns? Bach versus Everclear? Nope. "Fatty" jokes and poo-poo jokes. With the dialogue "morphed" onto the kids' faces via digital F.X., it's like Look Who's Talking crossed with the old "Crash Cargo" T.V. show, only smirkier and dirtier.

Made in a hectic, desperate, anything-for-a-laugh manner, the picture is exploitative and deplorable in other ways, from the way the children in the film are used, unawares, to deliver stupid and smutty dialogue, to scenes such as the one showing a tiny child merrily cavorting amidst speeding traffic.

Bob Clark directs the picture in a manner resembling rocks being pounded in two by a sledgehammer. The cast includes stalwart appearances by Christopher Lloyd (who, again, manages to deliver a fresh character performance amidst even the most woeful of circumstances) and Peter MacNicol; Kyle Howard, who must truly be pitied -- he has to do stuff that I wouldn't wish upon the most heinous convicted felon; Kim Cattrall, who must be repaying Clark for the chance to play "The Girl They Call 'Lassie'" in Porky's; and, as an evil corporate executive, Kathleen Turner.

What is Turner doing, here? Holding her arms and body in a fiercely clenched manner, her shoulders jutting like an biplane prop, glaring and throwing herself around and baring her teeth -- even her hairstyling looks aggressive. She sure seems to be mad-as-a-hornet about something, but what? That one of the best actresses of the 1980s is seen self-destructing in this picture makes the whole thing all the more depressing and resistable.

In short: Avoid like the plague.


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