“Only saviors can save polluted planets, yellow cab drivers are losers . . .”
Race to Witch Mountain is the latest opportunity for “tween” kids to drag their “twifty” grandparents to the multiplex Walpurgisnacht and shovel some more money into Disney’s satanic furnace.
The plot: Earth must be saved by blonde Aryan alien overlord teenagers with help of kindly American he-man.
Dwayne Johnson in Race to Witch Mountain is Disney’s answer to Vin Diesel or a young Harrison Ford. He is also reminiscent, in his skills and range, of Joel McCrea: a man who looks good whether as a cowboy or a playboy. He is fit, handsome, self-deprecating, and has a movie star’s faultless teeth. The action and light comedy demands of Race to Witch Mountain and previously Game Plan (2007) seem to fit him better than Rundown (2003) or Walking Tall (2004), two obscenely humorless and over-determined action vehicles from earlier in his career.
Not that Race to Witch Mountain isn’t “over-determined.” But its set-up and the early “meet cute” moments between male and female leads (Johnson and Carla Gugino) are calmly and clearly handled in a matter of minutes.
Seems an interstellar race of very white Anglo aliens have turned their home world into a polluted dump. The most socially conscious have, in experiments conducted on earth, found a way to turn things around. Sadly, the rulers of this distant world have decided to colonize earth rather than clean up their own mess. Two alien teens are all that stands – as the saying goes – in their way.
Race to Witch Mountain is the supreme Whitley Strieber/Art Bell/UFO/secret government movie. In fact, Strieber makes a cameo appearance, just to show what a good sport he is as the last twenty years of his life are sent up for Big Studio Hollywood derision. The movie’s opening credits are a kitchen sink montage of every piece of UFO folklore in the last sixty years. Mission to Mars (2000) and Signs (2002) are sanctimonious pikers compared to this hymn to the manias of pseudo-science.
Before James Randi and Michael Shermer have aneurysms, rest assured that Race to Witch Mountain bears the same relation to John Mack/Budd Hopkins la-la land as Michael Buble does to the American Songbook: it is aesthetic mountaintop removal of the most primitive sort.
The political stance of Race to Witch Mountain is New Age Democrat: a multiracial hero not unlike Barack Obama (and Dwayne Johnson is the most “not unlike Barack Obama” actor working today) clobbers the sinister Bush/McCain Patriot Act/black helicopter crowd. Additional theses: only saviors can save polluted planets, yellow cab drivers are losers, heroes drive a 1968 Mustang GT 390 Fastback, and villains use fleets of black SUVs.
Said villains all look like they’ve just emerged from an Alex Jones version of Men in Black. Their Witch Mountain headquarters: Dick Cheney’s Xanadu as imagined on Harry Shearer’s radio hour Le Show.
The bubble in live-action Disney movies – High School Musical 3, (2008), Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience (2009), Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009) – aimed at our pre-teenagers and used as battering rams to end resistance to the merchandise the movies spawn, shows no signs of recession. Back in the 1970s movie critics started talking about the Disneyfication of popular culture. Progress since then has been leaping forward: we now enjoy the super-Disneyfication. Or perhaps it is ultra-Disneyfication?
No matter what you call it, rest assured: They come in peace.