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  Theodore Rex Extinction's Too Good For Him
Year: 1995
Director: Jonathan R. Betuel
Stars: Whoopi Goldberg, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Juliet Landau, Bud Cort, Stephen McHattie, George Newbern, Carol Kane, Richard Roundtree, Jack Riley, Peter Mackenzie, Joe Dallesandro, Tony T. Johnson, Susie Coelho, Peter Kwong, Anne Lockhart, Phil Proctor
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Once upon a time in the future, dinosaurs have been brought back from extinction by science and are now roughly human-sized, have their own culture, can speak, and interact with the people around them. One of those lizards is Theodore Rex, also known as Teddy, who is a detective with the police force, though he has yet to be assigned a case; however, dinosaurs have a vague psychic link to one another which is why tonight he is convinced one of the population has been murdered. Teddy is convinced he should be assigned to this case, but he needs a partner, and as it turns out there is a more seasoned candidate for the investigation about to be introduced to him...

You could tell buddy cop movies were ever so slightly running out of ideas when Theodore Rex stumbled into our lives, for instead of pitting the square law enforcer against the loose cannon, or a cop with a dog, or whatever barely conceivable combination they might ordinarily invent, here it was a dinosaur teaming up with Whoopi Goldberg. This is one of the lessons to be learned about not giving verbal agreements for your work, because that's what pushed the extremely reluctant Whoopi into this project, and after being briefly sued for pointing out what a terrible idea this sounded, she signed on to star alongside a large puppet which should have been as mobile as the ones on the Dinosaurs sitcom, but was actually as nimble as a bronze statue.

Apparently everyone thought Teddy was going to be enhanced with CGI, but he wasn't, the poor sap(s) inside the costume lumbering around the sets and vaguely opening its mouth to denote speech slightly less animated than the average football mascot. Even then, at least a mascot gets to run about a bit, while this creation slo-o-o-owly shuffled from one side of the room to the other while George Newbern tried his best to sound perky as the character's voice. Watching Goldberg acting alongside this thing was not a fulfilling experience as she looked about as happy to be there as most people would be watching it, forcing smiles and monotoning lines, practically resisting the impulse to mutter, "Just pay me and let me go" at the end of every scene.

If this was infamous for anything, other than its bottom of the barrel concept, it was for its status as the only straight to video movie ever to be nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award, though it couldn't even get that right as it did indeed make it into cinemas in some territories to play to barely there audiences of bored kids and their equally listless parents. It had been intended by New Line to be a big release for summer, but it created such a bad and costly reputation that they gave it a perfunctory outing and then it was the bargain bins for Theodore Rex. You can tell a movie's backers had entirely lost faith in their production when there's a superfluous introduction which attempts to explain what the hell is going on, and so it is here, except this was supposed to be a murder mystery.

It's not much of a mystery when the opening narration tells you whodunnit and why before even introducing the characters, leaving you wondering whether to bother watching the rest of it after that spoileriffic beginning. The sad thing was that writer and director Jonathan Beutel, who had gifted the world The Last Starfighter, never made another movie after this debacle, so disgusted was he with the experience and the way the results turned out. Viewing this you could see someone was wanting to emulate the nineties Batman movies in that it was often so dark and gloomy that you couldn't make out what would have been bright and garish otherwise, either that or they wanted to hide the awkwardness of the puppets. They even had the cheek of introducing an anti-racism message to apply to humans and dinosaurs to go along with the baddie (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and his plans to reintroduce the Ice Age for no reason that is forthcoming. You can sort of see what they were aiming for, but in practice it was robust as the current state of the dinosaurs. Music by Robert Folk.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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