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Mighty Joe Young

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Mighty Joe Young

Starring: Bill Paxton, Charlize Theron
Director: Ron Underwood
Rated: PG
RunTime: 114 Minutes
Release Date: December 1998
Genres: Action, Family

*Also starring: Rade Serbedzija, Naveen Andrews

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Susan Granger review follows movie reviewvideo review
2.  MrBrown read the review movie reviewmovie review
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5.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4

Director Ron Underwood's remake of RKO's adventure about an awesome ape is the least-likely-to-succeed of the Christmas movies. The story begins as evil poachers kill a mountain gorilla mother and the scientist (Linda Purl) who's been photographing her. Watching the brutal carnage of their respective mothers, a baby gorilla and little girl cling to one another. Skip ahead 12 years and the gorilla's grown to 15 feet in height, due to a rare, recessive giantism gene, and the girl's become Charlize Theron. They're playmates, living idyllic splendor until they're discovered by a zoologist, Bill Paxton, whose greedy cohorts realize there's profit in capturing the beast. Paxton convinces Theron that the only safe place for "Joe" is a wildlife refuge in Los Angeles, where he's taunted into a frenzy by the same poachers who killed his mother. Everyone is out to kill poor, gentle Joe except the few people who care about him. Tracing the reasoning behind this remake leads to producer Ted Hartley, who bought RKO's film library with his wife, actress and Post-cereal heiress Dina Merrill, who can be glimpsed briefly in a red gown at a fund-raising gala, screaming, "Oh, my God!" Ray Harryhausen and Terry Moore (from the '49 film) do a cameo too. The best part of "Mighty Joe" is Rick Baker's stunning gorilla, a big, hydraulic creation that's even better than his "Gorillas in the Mist" work. The worst part is the dumb, cliche-driven script. Bill Paxton looks as if he's still watching over-his-shoulder for a "Twister," while Charlize Theron is terminally perky, even when she's tunelessly crooning a lullaby. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Mighty Joe Young" is a family-oriented 4. Another "Godzilla."

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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