Directed By: Jonathan Frakes
Written By: Rob Hedden, Andy Hedden, J.D. Stern, David N. Weiss
Starring: Jesse Bradford, French Stewart, Paula Garces, Richard Biehn, Robin Thomas, Jason Richard George, Julia Sweeney, Linda Kim
Rated: PG ( Action Violence / Mild Language )
Running Time: 94 Min.
Okay, here's the idea... a teenager comes across a top secret 'molecular accelerator', which has been designed into an ordinary looking sport watch. Discovering that the watch can seemingly stop time, he uses it for some harmless mischief, to help his friends, and to impress the new girl at school. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Well, think again. Clockstoppers, produced by kid TV network Nickelodeon and directed by Star Trek TNG veteran Jonathan Frakes may be a lot of things, but fun isn't one of them.
The concept of a watch that stops time has already been done at least twice for television, on Rod Serling's Twilight Zone and in the movie The Girl, the Gold Watch, & Everything. The Twilight Zone episode, 'A Kind of Stopwatch', played the story for both wonder and irony, The Girl, the Gold Watch, & Everything played it for romantic comedy, and Clockstoppers, for reasons unknown, seems to have gone the route of broody teen-angst. Big mistake! I would have tried to make it exciting and full of playful action and adventure, but then what do I know?
Our young main character is Zak Gibbs, played by Jesse Bradford. His father, a brilliant scientist, doesn't remotely understand him, his mother seems to care only enough about her family to feed them 'Hungry Man' frozen dinners, and his little sister is simply annoying. All of this would be just fine if played successfully for laughs, but apparently that was too much to ask from Clockstopper's four screenwriters. As a result, Zak seems pretty darn miserable during most of the film, whether he's dealing with his semi-dysfunctional family or being chased down and shot at by the rightful owners of the watch. No wonder he jumps at the chance to get away from them all in 'hypertime'!
As far as those so-called bad guys are concerned, we get a handful of generic covert government agents who are clumsily searching for Zak and the missing watch, and Third Rock From the Sun's French Stewart. Boy, this really is looking more and more like a made-for-television movie stepped up to the big screen, isn't it?
This is also looking less and less like a family film. Family films usually include positive role models and behaviors, but Clockstoppers is devoid of anything approaching 'family values'. Especially disconcerting is the 'trouble' Zak supposedly has with his parents. This is a kid who is obviously upper-middle-class, with a nice home, electric guitar, cool bicycle and other things provided by his folks, who becomes upset and depressed when dad won't let him buy the used car he wants. In other words, not the most desirable of movie-hero attitudes! Also, he and his friends think nothing of shoplifting the hi-tech equipment they need to try and thwart the government agents. And I won't even mention the awkward sexual innuendo between Zak and the girl he's known for less than a week. Oops, I guess I mentioned it after all.
Normally, I would also mention something about how this type of movie deals with time, motion and other physical laws, but since Clockstoppers ignores virtually everything of a logical nature, so will I.
Now, you may be wondering if there's anything actually worth seeing in Clockstoppers... um, well, I guess the special effects were fairly good. None of them are groundbreaking, but they are original and interesting to look at. Kudos to the post-production team that slapped them together. In addition, director Jonathan Frakes seems to have had some fun amusing himself during the production, as evidenced by his choices for background music and a clunky reference to his Star Trek alter-ego, Number One. Too bad this movie turned out more like number... no, it's too easy, I won't say it.
Movies are usually aimed at a specific audience. From its trailers and the involvement of Nickelodeon, I had assumed that Clockstoppers was targeting the ten to fifteen year old crowd. After seeing it, I still have no idea who this movie was made for, since it's unlikely to hold the interest of kids or adults of any age. Why couldn't there be a watch that speeds up time? I sure could have used one during Clockstoppers!