RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN (**) - Starring Dwayne Johnson, AnnaSophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig, Carla Gugino, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Everett Scott, Christopher Marquette, Cheech Marin and Garry Marshall.
Directed by Andy Fickman.
First of all, the first two movies endure even though watching them again without kid-wonder eyes, their low budgets really shine through. Where the first movie made the fact the kids are aliens a plot twist, this reboot/remake/whatever-it-is establishes it in the opening credits.
It carries on the tradition of eccentric villians. Movie #1 had Ray Milland and Donald Pleasance, and Movie #2 had Bette Davis and Christopher Lee. This one has Ciaran Hinds. I'd like to see Hinds take on James Bond next.
My family got free passes to this, and that was the way to see it. Had I spent the $38.50 it would have cost to take us all to a matinee, I would have felt ripped off. It's an okay addition to the series, for a DVD rental. In theaters, it meant nothing the second the credits started to roll. For one thing, in the originals, the kids felt like kids. In this one, they're weird the whole time. And there's some tear-jerking it goes for the end which doesn't feel earned at all.
It had some in-jokes I liked, like Meredith Salenger's cameo as TV reporter Natalie Gann, and the original Witch kids (Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann) having cameos. Then they had one character set up like it should be a meaningful cameo, and it wound up being Garry Marshall. Is this a joke I just don't get? "Hey, it's the guy who did the voice for Chicken Little's dad!" or "Didn't he direct The Princess Diaries?" I would've gone for Dean Jones or Robin Williams or Tim Allen or Tim Conway or Geoffrey Rush or Michael Crawford or Ed Asner or Ray Wise or . . .