By David Levine
A car going 25 mph is passed by another going 225 mph, but the slower car will appear frozen to the one going faster. This is the rudimentary physics lesson awaiting kids who venture to see the latest Nickelodeon film adventure Clockstoppers.
Teenager Zak (Jesse Bradford) is just days away from getting his dream car, yet his dad (Robin Thomas) is too busy with his complicated inventions to help make Zak's dream become a reality. While his dad is out of town attending a convention, Zak stumbles across a space-age watch that somehow freezes everything in time at the click of a button. At first, Zak and his new friend Francesca (Paula Garces) use their new powers, called hypertime, to play pranks on their friends, but later, they must save their own lives from a group of evil assassins who want the watch back.
I know Clockstoppers is a "kid's" movie, and I shouldn't take it so seriously; but that's no excuse for a lack of basic plot dynamics. The main problem: Clockstoppers becomes too bogged down in a complicated good guy/bad guy subplot about some sort of dangerous molecular stabilizer testing (huh?). With so many men in dark suits running around, I started to wonder who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. There are also flaws in the functionality of hypertime. When Zak and Francesca engage the watch, everyone and everything around them is frozen in time, yet when the bad guys are using hypertime to their advantage, Zak and Francesca can move about at will. Why are they not frozen too?
During some initial scenes when Zak and Francesca abuse hypertime to raise havoc, Clockstoppers is whimsical and entertaining, but once the subplot is introduced, the laughs disappear and the melodrama is piled on thick. The conflicts of Zak's car search with his dad and his interactions with his sister and mother assimilate much closer to a television melodrama than the sci-fi adventure this film is supposed to be. At the finale, the happy ending is sealed with a big, family group hug. Aw, isn't that sweet?
Other than a dazzling opening credits sequence, the best scene in Clockstoppers occurs early in the film when Zak and Francesca use hypertime to help their friend win a disc jockey competition. Director Jonathan Frakes (of Star Trek fame) shows his audience both worlds - inside hypertime as Zak and Francesca manipulate the performance and outside hypertime as those attending the event see the results of their efforts... without seeing them. Honestly, Frakes should have focused on the simple comedy of Zak and Francesca's use of hypertime to pull pranks on those around them.
Clockstoppers gets both a failing grade in physics and an equally abating review. Einstein would have been appalled.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 29th March 2002
Box Office Worldwide: $38.8M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies, Valhalla Motion Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 29%
Fresh: 25 Rotten: 60
Cast & Crew