A review of “The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl in 3-D” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *

Rating: PG for mild action and rude humor

Run Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

 

 

Has Robert Rodriguez lost his way?  Or lost his energy after pouring so much emotion into the gutsy and grueling Sin City?

I’d like to give the insurgent director the benefit of the doubt but I’m hard pressed considering the juvenile, haphazard nature of this absurd children’s fantasy.

The story centers on ten-year old Max (Cayden Boyd), a dreamy outcast with warring parents (David Arquette and Kristin Davis) who lives inside his head to ward off the hurt.  Max’s fantasy world is focused on Planet Drool, where Shark Boy (Taylor Lautner as the lad lost at sea and raised by sharks) and Lava Girl (Taylor Dooley as an adolescent spitfire with flame-throwing hands) team up to battle the sizzling and sinister Mr. Electric (George Lopez).   

Electric is bent on turning dreamy Drool into a living nightmare as he relentlessly pursues the cunningly-challenged trio to get his way.  Max and his imaginary friends ride giant chocolate chip cookies on a sea of warm milk, board the Train of Thought and float a banana split boat on the Stream of Consciousness while nothing of consequence transpires. 

But for a vague notion of a parallel universe where fantasy and reality collide Rodriguez’ narrative (based on his own grade school son’s stories) is a jumble of concepts and half-baked imaginings. In the words of the intrepid Max, dream a better dream then work to make it real. (Please!)

Cheap production values and migraine-inducing 3-D glasses add to the dreary experience that is Rodriguez’ ode to child’s-play.  The script is aimed squarely at the 10-and-under set (“More boogers on your homework than there is homework!”) and the perpetual violet skies of his kinetic Candyland are downright nauseating.

I’ll cop to a thrill over the writhing electric eels and one cool moment with ice-cube people but that’s all I’m giving up.  Rodriguez’ incessant fascination with the art of 3-D (Spy Kids 3-D) is tedious and misplaced and not at all in keeping with his trademark hip cum edgy style (Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn).

Performances are dismal across the boards; only Boyd offers a smidgeon of spark.  Skip it.