Two Disney Channel Original Movies
Minutemen (June 12/08)
A slight cut above its Disney Channel brethren, Minutemen follows a trio of put-upon high schoolers (Jason Dolley's Virgil, Luke Benward's Charlie, and Nicholas Braun's Zeke) as they essentially become superheroes after Charlie invents a device that allows the user to travel up to two days into the past. The three characters use the machine to warn their less-than-popular colleagues of impending humiliations, though it's not long before local FBI agents start sniffing around. As expected, Minutemen has been infused with a distinctly teen-centric sensibility that's occasionally oppressive in its conspicuousness - as screenwriter John Killoran emphasizes elements that couldn't possibly be less interesting to viewers over a certain age (including an entirely needless subplot revolving around Virgil's crush on a fellow classmate). Killoran's periodic winks to other, better time-travel stories certainly goes a long way towards keeping things tolerable, however, as it's impossible not to get a kick out of the film's more overt references to its thematically-similar forebearers (ie Vice Principal Tolkan has clearly been named after Back to the Future actor James Tolkan). Having said that, there's just never at point at which it isn't painfully obvious that Minutemen's been geared towards a very specific demographic and it's consequently impossible to fully embrace the flick for more than a few minutes at a time.
The Proud Family Movie (November 7/08)
Based on the hit Disney Channel series, The Proud Family Movie details the exploits of the eponymous clan - 14-year-old Penny (Kyla Pratt), twin siblings BeBe and CeCe (Tara Strong), father Oscar (Tommy Davidson), mother Trudy (Paula Jai Parker), and grandmother Suga Mama (Jo Marie Payton) - and follows their efforts at defeating a mad scientist bent on world domination. The Proud Family Movie has been infused with a low-rent animation style that immediately proves a test to one's patience, as the movie boasts a subpar, downright unpleasant look that makes even the shoddiest Saturday morning cartoon look masterful by comparison. The viewer's efforts at looking past the egregiously incompetent visuals are consistently hampered by the absurdly simplistic sensibilities of the screenplay, which - in addition to requiring four writers (!) - has been equipped with some of the hoariest clichés and stereotypes that one could possibly imagine. It consequently goes without saying that there's not a single likable figure in the bunch, as the Prouds have been infused with aggressively sassy characteristics that are obnoxious and flat-out offensive (ie there are plenty of forced, eye-rolling references to "playas" and "shorties.") And while it does seem possible that fans of the show (are there any?) might find something here to embrace, The Proud Family Movie's bottom-of-the-barrel modus operandi ensures that it remains an entirely worthless endeavor for the duration of its interminable running time.
no stars out of