Making the Grades
Movies that are touted as family films come under my most intense scrutiny, and Jack left me wondering if the promotion writers that wrote the advertisements for Jack ever got around to seeing the film.
For most of this movie, Jack (Robin Williams) is a ten year old boy with a curious problem -- he ages at four times the normal rate. Born after a two month pregnancy, Jack is speeding through life at a rate that will put him into old age security before his senior high prom. For the most part, we get to see Jack handle grade five, as he is placed in a public school for the first time at the request of his tutor, Mr. Woodruff (Bill Cosby).
At this point the movie has two choices. Go for the adult version where Jack has a mid-life crisis on the playground (he almost has a heart attack) or the kid version where Jack does funny slapstick sillies. Unfortunately, the script splits and tries both paths at once. One moment Jack is falling on the floor with his little desk collapsing around him, the next he is in a bar having a discussion about sexual problems and trying to pick up his classmate's mom (Fran Drescher).
The irony of Jack is that Williams spends the movie trying to act ten, while the real ten year old children try to be adults. Many movies want us to believe the age of puberty is dropping like a rock, and showing these children salivating over Penthouse magazine only adds to this falsehood. Later, their attractive teacher asks what they want to be when they grow up and one boy responds "a gynecologist."
With Hollywood powerhouse names like Williams, Cosby, and Francis Ford Coppola directing, it seems impossible to make a movie this bad. The Disney press info claims that Williams spent three weeks on Coppola's ranch learning how to act like a child, but I think the nearest elementary school would have made a far better training ground.