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RocketMan

Friday October 10, 1997

     "RocketMan" is one of Disney's decidedly lesser efforts, a space adventure so stale, mechanical and predictable that even the small children at the press preview were mainly unresponsive. Not even the special effects are very special.
     Harland Williams stars as Fred Z. Randall, an ultra-nerdy, ultra-klutzy genius who has designed the operating system for the spaceship Pathfinder. All it takes is a couple of flukes to land Randall on the first manned space mission to Mars aboard Pathfinder. Less than thrilled at the prospect of having Randall along on the journey are Pathfinder's seasoned commander "Wild Bill" Overbeck (William Sadler) and mission specialist Julie Ford (Jessica Lundy). The other passenger is a chimpanzee.
     As written by Craig Mazin and Greg Erb and directed by Stuart Gillard, "RocketMan" plays like a live-action cartoon that should have been a work of animation in the first place. The infinite plasticity of the form might well have gone a long way toward unshackling "RocketMan" from its triteness.
     More frenetic than funny, Williams does lots of impressions--and they all just happen to be characters from vintage Disney films. Unfortunately, his Randall is not at all distinctive and seems but a carbon copy of countless nerds before him. On the whole the cast is dull, with only Beau Bridges making a dent as a conscientious veteran astronaut back at NASA headquarters in Houston.


RocketMan, 1997. PG, for language, crude humor and thematic elements. A Buena Vista release of a Walt Disney Pictures presentation in association with Caravan Pictures. Director Stuart Gillard. Producer Roger Birnbaum. Executive producers Jon Turteltaub, Oren Aviv, Jonathan Glickman. Screenplay by Craig Mazin & Greg Erb; from a story by Aviv & Mazin & Erb. Cinematographer Steven Poster. Editor William D. Gordean. Costumes Daineil Orlandi. Music Michael Tavera. Production designer Roy Forge Smith. Art directors Michael Rizzo, Joseph Hodges. Set decorator Brenda Meyers-Ballard. Set designers Gary Sawaya, Tom Dornbusch. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes. Harland Williams as Fred Z. Randall. Jessica Lundy as Julie Ford. William Sadler as "Wild Bill" Overbeck. Beau Bridges as Bud Nesbitt.

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