Making the Grades
Average-guy George Malley (John Travolta) isn't sure what hit him on the night of his birthday party, but he won't ever be the same again. The local mechanic in a small California town, Malley is suddenly as adept at speaking foreign languages as he is with a wrench. Soon everything becomes interesting to him, to the point where reading about flower species and solar panels replaces sleep.
The only thing that can pull Malley out of his books is Lace (Kyra Sedgwick), a reclusive single mom. As he becomes more peculiar to the locals, Lace is more enamored with George, and stands by him as his average life turns into a circus sideshow.
This movie's best asset is Travolta. He plays Malley as a humble man who, even after becoming the next Einstein, is still just an ordinary guy. Malley's mind develops to the point where he can move small objects just by "asking them," and demonstrates this remarkable ability to the community with the attitude of it being no more special than a nifty card trick. Yet to those around him, he is anything but ordinary, and when his angry glance breaks a mirror in the town bar, Malley finds himself ostracized from the community.
For family viewing, Phenomenon may pose concerns. Malley's relationship with Lace develops into a sexual encounter (no nudity) near the end of the film. Another incident near the beginning has the local doctor mooning Malley from his office window, an action that seems out of character as you get to know the doctor. There are also some mild profanities throughout.
Phenomenon's message is to be more accepting of others that are different. Malley only wanted his friends to treat him as they did before he changed, and the movie accurately illustrates how people have difficulties accepting someone who doesn't behave the way we are accustomed to. If you watch with your children, ask them how they would treat a friend who was suddenly disabled in some way. Being left out is a phenomenon that occurs frequently.