Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 7, 2005)
On the cover for the DVD of Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, we find the statement that “America’s favorite talking babies are back!” That seems like a big claim for a movie that made $9 million at the box office, especially since the original flick only took in $27 million. Admittedly, the franchise doesn’t have a lot of competition for the title of “America’s favorite talking babies” due to the fact we’ve not gotten a new Look Who’s Talking effort since 1993.
Still, I’d like to see a franchise take in more than $36 million total before I’d call it America’s favorite anything. However, Baby Geniuses may be Colin’s Favorite Cheesy Kiddie Fare to Hate. The original movie was absolutely atrocious, so I knew I had to check out the sequel to see if it lived up - or down, as it were - to the older flick’s standards.
I didn’t think it was possible, but Superbabies may actually be worse than its predecessor, though in a different way. Normally I like to write my own plot synopses, but since the story of Superbabies made so little sense, I figured I’d just reiterate the text from the DVD’s back cover:
”Scheming TV mogul Bill Biscane (Jon Voight) drops in on Stan (Scott Baio) and Jean Bobbins’ (Vanessa Angel) group of smart-talking toddlers, pretending to be a guest for story time. But they are unaware of Biscane’s master plan: to transmit subliminal messages through his kiddie program and control the children of the world! When Kahuna (Gerry, Myles and Leo Fitzgerald) - a small fry with a very big attitude - discovers Biscane’s real motive, he organizes the babies and fires up his turbo jet. In hot pursuit, the baby geniuses blow the cover on Biscane’s true identity and change the definition of story time forever!”
Proof that the story is incoherent comes from this synopsis. Even it’s not accurate, as it gets a number of plot points incorrect. My guess is that someone tried to create an accurate summation but couldn’t figure out form of logic from the tale so they just cobbled together some random elements. Or maybe they just said “who cares?” and left it at that.
I can’t blame anyone who feels that way. As bad as the first movie was, at least it operated from a semi-intriguing premise with its concept of decoding baby talk. Okay, “semi-intriguing” is an overstatement, as the original’s tale was little more than an excuse for wacky shenanigans, but at least the film sort of kind of almost tried to create a plot.
That’s as close to praise as I can ever offer for Baby Geniuses, which deserves no accolades. In comparison with Superbabies, though, it looks much more interesting and coherent. This movie’s so absurd and poorly-made that it doesn’t even turn into good fodder for mockery. Geniuses poured on the cutesy montages. I hate that crap, but I suppose it entertained the same people who liked the Dancing Baby and other such nonsense.
Superbabies includes some of those sorts of shots, but mostly it just meanders from one pointless situation to another. No real attempts at storytelling occur. Yeah, there is some sort of plot, but as I noted, it makes no sense, so the movie does little more than present largely unconnected little scenarios. One minute we get wacky action sequences, and then we shift awkwardly to teen romance.
Frankly, I often got the feeling that the filmmakers took whatever the child actors gave them and tried to cobble it into a story. A lot of the material just seems so incongruous. For example, toward the end, the bouncy baby takes a drink of water and pours some over his head. This doesn’t connect with the tale at all, so I’d guess that the kid did it on his own, someone thought it was cute, and into the movie it went.
The flick tosses in strangeness like Kahuna’s “origin story” as well. This creates a really creepy element, as we find out that Kahuna’s not a kid - he’s over 70 years old and kept in a permanent state of childhood due to a chemical formula. The movie wouldn’t make any sense, but this just seems disturbing.
And nonsensical, as well. I guess the filmmakers felt they needed to make some explanation for Kahuna’s abilities, but couldn’t they have come up with something better than that? And why did they need to use the kids who played Sly/Whit from the first movie in the role? There was no reason to connect Kahuna to those characters.
It’s official: Jon Voight will do anything for a paycheck. How is it possible that he once was regarded as one of the premier actors? No, he’s not the first to slide down from the highest highs, but his appearances in miserable efforts like Superbabies, Anaconda have nearly turned him into a laughingstock.
At least Voight tries his damnedest to evoke some entertainment. He overacts relentlessly and seems about to blow a gasket at any moment. Occasionally he almost provokes a little amusement, but he doesn’t quite succeed.
The other actors don’t do anything well. The fact that all the babies had to be dubbed by others makes their sequences stilted and artificial. Oddly, even another actor does all of Kahuna’s lines for the Fitzgerald boys. The kids must be six or seven by now - they couldn’t read their own material?
It doesn’t help that the lines integrate poorly. There’s lot of bad looping in this flick, even from the actors who speak their own lines. I thought the visual effects of the first film looked pretty good, but they’ve not progressed over the last five years. Those shots consistently seem cheap and fake here.
Honestly, Superbabies is such a bad movie that it’s not even entertaining as cheese. At least the first one was fun to hate, whereas this one’s just boring. It fails to create an even mildly coherent story or to present anything fun or entertaining.