Eric D. Snider

Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2

The people who saw "Baby Geniuses" in 1999 and lived to tell about it should not see its sequel, "Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2," or they run the risk of incurring post-traumatic stress disorder. Whatever progress they have made to rebuild their shattered souls since then, via therapy or alcoholism, will be undone at the sight of more babies behaving even more unfunnily.

This is a film so thunderingly unfunny that it makes "White Chicks" look like "Blazing Saddles." It's like the time I saw "Battlefield Earth" and thought, "Surely this will be the worst film of the year" -- and then along came "Blair Witch 2" to prove me wrong. Here I thought "White Chicks" would be impossible to beat for sheer wrong-headed stupidity, but I see now I was only wishing it were so. "Superbabies" couldn't be worse if it had been written and produced by actual babies, and I mean babies who are retarded and who hate movies.

Continuing the concept introduced in the dreadful first film, "Superbabies" focuses on toddlers who, like all babies, have a language of their own that only they can understand. Adults hear it as babble; they (and the movie audience) hear it as regular English, complete with slang. (The Latina baby says, "I'm thirsty! Girl needs a drink!")

The four central toddlers -- Archie, Finkleman, Rosita and Alex -- dwell at Archie's parents' daycare center, where they stumble onto a nefarious plot by German broadcaster Bill Biscane (Jon Voight) to air a television show that will control children's minds. In their efforts to thwart him, they are aided by Kahuna (played by triplets Gerry, Leo and Myles Fitzgerald), a superhero permanently at the age of about 6 who has been battling Biscane for decades. Kahuna delivers a lot of superhero-style lines that have been given a kid flavor, such as "Why don't you pick on someone half your size?" and "I'm a small fry with a big attitude!" Every time he speaks, a little part of me dies inside.

Archie's parents are played by Vanessa Angel and Scott Baio (!). Their last name is Bobbins, but their daycare center is called Bobbin's World, with the apostrophe in the wrong place (since their name is Bobbins, not Bobbin).

But if we're going to go down that road -- the road where we talk about sloppy, lazy filmmaking -- then we'd better pack a lunch, because we're going to be gone awhile. Either the filmmakers are stupid, or they think we are. How else to explain in one scene emphasizing that a hologram is just a projected image that cannot be touched, and in the next scene showing a hologram picking up one of the toddlers? Or a fight scene where a bad guy is kicked in the crotch -- and thus rendered unconscious? (I have a crotch, and I've been kicked in it, and the effect is the very opposite of unconsciousness.)

More importantly, the movie's fundamental conceit is never presented believably. Not only is it creepy to see babies talking, but it's not even done well. The kids' facial expressions rarely match what the dubbed-in voices are saying -- "I'm really scared!" cries one of them, grinning -- and even the older characters, who actually spoke their own lines, often don't quite synch up with the audio. It's as if the whole film was shot without sound so everything could be dubbed in later, in a hurry, without concern for whether they got it right.

You will be sorry to learn that the director is Bob Clark, who also gave us "A Christmas Story" and "Porky's." His best work is clearly behind him, and now he's making movies with his eyes closed and his iPod turned up loud, not caring whether the thing makes any sense or earns a laugh.

I want to quote two lines of dialogue from Gregory Poppen's laugh-free, excrementally bad screenplay. It is spoken by two of the toddlers, Rosita and Finkleman:

ROSITA: (yelling) I don't have aggression issues, and don't make me pound on you to prove it!
FINKLEMAN: OK, Mrs. Tyson, don't bite my ear off!

As a writer, I am deeply offended that one of my fellow wordsmiths even THOUGHT of this, let alone typed it up and submitted it as part of a final draft. Rosita's line is bad enough, so hoary and jokey that even the lamest of vaudeville comedians wouldn't have used it. But Finkleman's reply -- a Mike Tyson ear-biting reference? In 2004?! I might allow such a thing if the context truly called for it, i.e., if a character were actually biting another character's ear. But in this case, Rosita is only yelling. The appropriate response is, "Don't bite my head off!" Gregory Poppen probably thought of that, then free-associated from "head" to "ear" to "Mike Tyson," then thought, "That's comedy gold!" If he thought the rest of his crap was funny, he probably thought that was, too. I wish he were here, so I could murder him.

Grade: F

Rated PG, some crude humor

1 hr., 30 min.

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