Review

  • The only reason I watched _Zapped Again_ was because I had again watched the original _Zapped!_ after 19 years (see my review for _Zapped!_). From some of the reviews in video books and on the IMDb, I was prepared for an unmitigated disaster. Surprisingly, I found myself reasonably entertained for an hour and a half.

    First of all, I should say that _Zapped Again_ isn't a great movie. Its origins and status as a low budget, direct-to-video movie clearly show. The plot is very superficial, the constant double entendres (especially the "wiener" jokes) get a little annoying, and the stand-up-for-your-friends-and-don't-go-with-the-popular-crowd moral that pops up in every teen film has been conveyed much more effectively. Even the special effects are worse than the original _Zapped!_, which actually came out seven years earlier.

    But in spite of all of this, I didn't think this was half bad, probably because I went in with lowered expectations. One reason was because the movie doesn't rely on strong profanity, sex scenes, or gross-out scenes to entertain its target audience, the way so many other teen movies do. In fact, this is basically a PG-rated movie with some nude scenes incongruously thrown in--just like the original _Zapped!_. I'm no prude, and I have to agree with the reviewer who said that the movie is "gosh darn wholesome," but not all movies--or even all teen movies--require racy elements. Maybe this IS too much like _Saved by the Bell_, but it does have PG-rated material (and those nude scenes, the only reason why this is rated R).

    I should devote a separate paragraph to Kelli Williams, who plays the hero's love interest (by the way, her mother, Shannon Wilcox, plays the hero's mom in the opening scenes). I had never heard of her before watching _Zapped Again_ (I never watch TV, so I hadn't even seen her on _The Practice_), but let me tell you, she helps this movie immeasurably. You see, her character is supposed to be a science nerd, just like Felice Schachter in the original _Zapped_, but Kelli lights up the movie every time she appears onscreen. Not only is she the perfect "sweet nice girl" (I always had a weakness for those characters), but she plays this part without overacting or resorting to caricature; she gets it just right. Although roles like this are never meant to win Oscars, Kelli takes this little part in a direct-to-video flick and actually does something with it. Although I'm sure she'd like to forget all about _Zapped Again_, the movie is much better for her presence. I'm not surprised that she went on to her present success on _The Practice_.

    The acting is actually better than in _Zapped!_, which is one main reason why I liked _Zapped Again_ better. However, I thought that the types that

    some of the characters were supposed to represent were inconsistent with those characters' portrayal and actions. Kevin (played by Todd Eric Andrews) acts just too "cool" to be an outcast nerd; I can't see why he would have any social problems. As for Kelli Williams as Lucy, I just couldn't accept her as a nerd girl (although I certainly don't object to her presence here). Not only does she look too good for the part, but her attempts at nerdy intellectualism fall flat, and the two scenes where she inexplicably wears glasses (and just as inexplicably takes them off) look like weak attempts by the filmmakers to establish her character. They should have just had her play a straightforward "nice girl" (which she does admirably). Linda Blair doesn't cut it as "the hottest teacher in the school": not only does she not look "sexy" enough, but her character is also just too nice.

    Still, I thought that _Zapped Again_ was a half-decent movie, especially because the acting was better than _Zapped!_ (maybe because 1989 was a more exciting year than 1982, and had that hip attitude?). Hey, it kept me entertained, and sometimes I like to take a break from the Criterion Collection and watch something that does nothing more than entertain you.

    If you demand that all teen movies and sex comedies have refugees from WB Network shows, big budgets, and great soundtracks (always a big selling point with teen films), then you'll hate _Zapped Again_ (which, by the way, is more a remake of _Zapped!_ than a sequel). But as long as you lower your expectations, and as long as you don't expect a late 80s teen classic like _Heathers_ or _Say Anything_, you might get a little something out of this.