18 April 2006 | gilbert_gumphrey
Most perplexing viewing experience of my life.
I can't remember the last time a movie confused and tormented my filmgoing soul as much as this movie did. Everything inside of me, everything in me that loves Shawshank Redemption and Vertigo and Raging Bull and all these great great great classic movies tells me that Sharkboy and Lavagirl was awful. And it was. Drastically awful. And I enjoyed almost every minute of it. Let me try and explain it this way - I have written ongoing lists of the greatest films ever made, and the worst films ever made, and Sharkboy and Lavagirl is the only movie I've ever seen that has gotten a placement in both lists for me.
Sharkboy is about a young child named Max who dreams up wonderful fantasies and adolescent superhero type adventures. Eventually he travels into this dream world aided by the aforementioned Sharkboy and Lavagirl as they fight to keep the dream world a happy go lucky place from the evil Mr. Electric. So there's the story. Simple, childish, and a bit reminiscent of Neverending Story. I knew this plot before my 6 year old cousin made me watch the film and I sighed. What a waste of two hours this would be. Then something strange happened. I got a chill. Then Lavagirl and Sharkboy appeared and took Max into their spaceship, and I got more chills. Throughout the course of the movie, especially in the end, I was enthralled and received more goosebumps than when I watched Braveheart, much to the embarrassment of my dumbfounded girlfriend.
I have no idea how to explain my reaction to the film. I was pleasantly surprised, obviously, and I had a lot of fun watching the movie (I'm excluding the terrible 3-D version of the film, which is a pointless distract-or and takes away a lot of the magic). Then why am I only giving this movie 5 stars out of 10 (a middling mark to avoid giving it a 10 or a 1)? For the same reason why the movie is both on my list of most hated and most loved - it's a bad movie. To say it's a guilty pleasure to me would be underestimating guilt and pleasure. The script is silly, the special effects are slapdash, the editing is at times incoherent, the acting is atrocious, and there are moments where even my 6 year old cousin grimaced at the lame dialogue. But damned if this movie isn't a lot of fun.
So I can't really recommend the movie to anyone over the age of 10. I still can't believe that I, a 17 year old classic film lover, enjoyed this movie as much as I did. But I can definitely tell that it's a movie younger kids, especially boys (for I'm pretty sure every boy this age has dreams and fantasies just like the ones in the film) will love. I harkin this bizarre feeling I have for Sharkboy to when you find an old cartoon you used to love as a young child and watch it again. Even though you're reciting the lines and the songs like you did when you were young, you know deep down that if it wasn't a childhood favourite and gave you so much nostalgia, you'd hate it just as much as everyone else. This is what this movie was like for me. It was the childhood flick I never got to see. Maybe that warrants a recommendation. Maybe still not. I really don't know - you'll have to see it for yourself and find out.
Or maybe not.