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Zapped 1 & 2

Zapped! (February 9/08)

Zapped!'s place as a bona fide cult classic is nothing short of baffling, as the film - which doesn't even fall under the so-bad-it's-good category - suffers from a whole host of deficiencies that ultimately prevent it from holding the viewer's interest for more than a few minutes at a time. The episodic nature of the film's structure ensures that there's virtually nothing propelling the distinctly threadbare story forward, and it's consequently quite difficult to care about the central character's increasingly silly shenanigans. Scott Baio stars as Barney Springboro, a nerdy science student who finds himself able to move objects with his mind following a lab experiment gone wrong; the majority of the movie follows Barney as he uses his newfound abilities to win baseball games, strip beautiful co-eds of their clothes, beat up longtime bullies, etc, etc. It's the kind of premise that would at least seem to possess the potential for a wacky yet amusing time-waster, yet - as becomes clear almost immediately - there's exceedingly little within the movie that actually works. Director (and co-writer) Robert J. Rosenthal effectively sucks all the laughs and levity out of the proceedings.by emphasizing distinctly unfunny subplots and side characters, which - admittedly - wouldn't be quite so problematic had the filmmaker bothered to include a cohesive storyline (ie Zapped! is ultimately less a movie than a series of poorly-conceived skits). The affable work by the three leads - Baio, Willie Aames, and Felice Schachter - simply isn't enough to compensate for the less-than-competent vibe that's been hard-wired into virtually every aspect of the production, and the movie's enduring status as an '80s sex-comedy staple is certainly a head-scratcher (compared to other entries within the genre, Zapped! is actually pretty tame).

out of

Zapped Again (January 26/16)

As tedious and underwhelming as its lackluster predecessor, Zapped Again follows affable teen Kevin Matthews (Todd Eric Andrews) as his arrival at a new school is met with derision by bullies and the opposite sex. Kevin's efforts to make friends eventually leads him to the school's science club, where he meets and falls for a fetching fellow student named Lucy (Kelli Williams). Perhaps inevitably, Kevin's newfound association with the science club is threatened by the aforementioned bullies - with the character's fate changed dramatically by the discovery of a magic potion that affords the drinker mind-controlling telekinetic powers. Kevin initially uses these powers to perform a series of juvenile pranks (eg lifting the skirt of his attractive teacher), but it's not long before the eager teenager decides to employ his powerful abilities against the bullies that continue to torment him (and his friends). It's not terribly surprising to discover that Zapped Again suffers from a pervasively (and aggressively) broad sensibility that grows more and more pronounced as time progresses, with Andrews' smug, over-the-top performance effectively exacerbating the movie's less-than-engrossing feel. The absence of an interesting storyline, coupled with a total lack of laughs, ensures that the film's 96 minutes feel very long indeed, and there's little doubt that the failure of both Zapped! and Zapped Again is curious, to say the least, given the massive potential afforded by the outrageous premise.

out of

© David Nusair