30 August 2004 | kzoofilm
Teething was more fun
If you've been thinking about hiring somebody to clean out those clogged gutters or to get that darned septic tank working again, just call Jon Voight. Yeah, the same Jon Voight who won an Academy Award as best actor in 1978 for "Coming Home." The star of "Midnight Cowboy," "Catch-22" and "Conrack" -- you know, Angelina Jolie's dad.
Why bother Mr. Voight? Well, considering that he's lending his name to "SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2," he clearly has a lot of time on his hands, doesn't consider any job too demeaning and probably won't charge too much.
In case you're wondering why Voight would elect to appear in "SuperBabies," the follow-up to a movie he wasn't in, instead of "Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid" -- and don't pretend you don't remember the scene in the first "Anaconda" in which the gargantuan serpent swallows, then coughs up Voight -- here's a hint: Voight was an executive producer of the original "Baby Geniuses." Since that 1999 fiasco effectively torpedoed what was left of the screen careers of Christopher Lloyd and Kathleen Turner, it must have been a formidable challenge finding actors eager to strip themselves of every scintilla of dignity to perform alongside a bunch of feisty computer-generated toddlers (with the exception of Scott Baio and Vanessa Angel, of course). Apparently for Voight it was put up or shut up time.
So here he is, ladies and gentlemen, outfitted with not one, but two dollar-store-quality wigs and employing an absurd German accent as Bill Biscane, a megalomaniac who plans to use cheaply made, insipid kiddie TV shows to hypnotize babies around the world and rob them of their free will; clearly, Biscane marches to the sound of his own drummer. But those who cherish the ideal of infants being able to make their own choices need not despair: SuperBaby Kahuna (played by Gerry, Leo and Myles Fitzgerald, who are by no means identical triplets) is on the case, and if there's anybody you want on your side when you're facing an onslaught of wretched programming, it's "a small fry with a big attitude" who taunts his enemies with such put-downs as "Why don't you pick on somebody half your size?" and "Never send a man to do a boy's job."
Kahuna -- who is revealed to be a grown man trapped in the body of a pre-schooler, in a slightly sickening plot twist that requires three flashback scenes to post-World War II Germany to explain -- has some major connections, too. He can jump on his computer network and converse with Whoopi Goldberg, the members of that nearly forgotten boy-band O-Town, or any other celebrity or pseudo-celebrity willing to be pasted into a movie that only an unfortunate few are fated to see. Although he seems wise beyond his years as he notes that "every child has power -- all you have to do is believe," Kahuna lives in what looks like a papier-mache cave full of large plywood and plaster imitation toys that might have been salvaged from the windows of a now-defunct F.A.O. Schwarz location. It's a sad sight indeed.
There are other four SuperBabies, too, and just prior to the climactic showdown with Biscane and his goons, this diaper-clad quartet jumps onto Kahuna's magic carousel, where they are transformed into Brain Boy (who wears a scaled-down cap and gown), Cupid Girl (who shoots arrows that cause grown men to stop fighting and hug each other instead), Bounce Baby (who is stuck inside an orange beach ball) and Baby Courageous (whose get-up proves that the only thing that looks worse than a grown man in a tacky hairpiece is a toddler in a bad toupee).
Watching from the sidelines are Baio and Angel, as the dizzy owners of a highly questionable day care center in which most of the children parade around half-dressed, and Hilary Duff clone Skyler Shaye and Frankie Muniz lookalike Justin Chatwin, who attempt to provide a bit of squeaky-clean teen love interest -- not exactly what the target audience of 6-year-olds is itching to see.
As was the case with "Baby Geniuses," the movie contains a surplus of awkward-looking digital effects that are supposed to convince us the wee ones are actually making wisecracks and running wild. The results are generally pitiful. If "SuperBabies" is marginally better than the excruciating "Geniuses" -- and you sure wouldn't want to live on the difference -- it's because director Bob Clark and screenwriter Gregory Poppen don't shoehorn in nearly as much innuendo or smarminess this time around; they're equally stingy with charm and imagination as well.
By the way, Voight's next project is called "The Karate Dog," in which he'll co-star with Simon Rex, Pat Morita and Chevy Chase, who'll provide "the voice of Cho-Cho," according to the Internet Movie Database. Do an Oscar winner a big favor and call him this weekend -- really, the guy must be willing to do just about anything for a couple bucks.