This one should Zoom in and out of the theaters quickly, and into the discount DVD bin real soon.
What does the government do when they need someone to fight something that could end the world? They gather together a bunch of kids with superpowers, that"s what. From first grader Cindy (Ryan Newman) to teen James Dean-wannabe Dylan (Michael Cassidy), the kids--with superhero names like Princess and Houdini--are taken to a secret facility in the desert. The white-bread group also includes red-headed Summer (Kate Mara), who seems like she has the potential to go ''Carrie'' on her friends at any moment, and Tucker (Spencer Breslin) who's a chubby kid with a knack for making his body parts expand into obscene proportions. To train the kids, the government team of Gen. Larraby (Rip Torn), Dr. Grant (Chevy Chase) and Marsha (Courteney Cox) have to coax former superhero Zoom (Tim Allen) out of retirement. Seems Zoom's brother, Concussion (Kevin Zegers), has turned bad and wants world domination, so Zoom reluctantly agrees to help but only for the money.
In the outtakes at the end of the film, former TV star Allen says to fellow former TV stars Cox and Chase, ''Gosh, we're all funnier on television.'' Maybe they weren"t given as much opportunity to ad-lib in this film, but it"s true. They all certainly were funnier on TV. Allen doesn't have the same reluctant hero edge he had with Galaxy Quest, and Cox tries too hard to be goofy, tripping along the way and wearing glasses to look geeky. Chase just isn't funny at all, and Torn is so over-the-top mean, he comes across as a real-life military leader. The best performances, actually, comes from the kids. Newman is almost Shirley Temple-like in her innocence, although she can bench-press tons. Mara as Summer is quietly sexy, and Cassidy could be a new hunk-du-jour after this movie and his stint on The O.C. Breslin is his usual talented self, but isn't as clever or as multi-dimensional as he's been in The Kid or The Cat in the Hat.
Director Peter Hewitt helmed the first Garfield movie. Maybe that's enough said. Still, he has had flashes of brilliance, say with Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, so he it would seem like he knows how to put a comedy together. The problem is Zoom feels very claustrophobic, never allowing the characters to expand and show off their powers. They are much more interesting when they're out in the real world turning invisible or making their body parts expand enormously among the general populace. There's one particularly funny scene when they hijack a flying saucer and take it on a road trip, but that's about it. Even with an R2-D2-like robot on their side, and some decent special effects, Zoom is a yawner.
Hollywood.com rated this film 1 1/2 stars.