A wiser critic than I had a rating system that included the assessment, “Will require therapy after viewing.” That certainly applies in the case of “Stardust”. I thought I was going to be reviewing an abysmally stupid kids’ movie and I wound up watching… something else. But I am getting ahead of myself.
You will probably not be surprised at this point to learn that I once worked in a video store. More specifically, I worked there in the very last gasp of the big video store chains. In those days, we had a huge number of movies delivered to us every week that, when I was in charge of inventory, I’d try to fit all on one shelf. That’s why the local Hollywood Video was the first video store to have an “Incredibly Sh*tty Direct-To-Video Childrens’ Films” shelf. I am not sure if all of these movies came from the same company. But they all seemed to have the same cover design (the ever-popular “I just learned Photoshop” graphic design style and an obnoxious kid flying at your face with an 8D expression on his own face) and they all seemed to share the same plot (kid makes friends with a [enter the first object writer sees here] that comes to life and they get into adventures).
So when I learned that Netflix had a movie available about a kid and a [thing] that comes to life, my curiosity was piqued. “Stardust” looked to be from the same minds that brought us “The Flying Dirtbike” and “The Magic Skateboard”. However, this Kid-Gets-Into-Wacky-Hijinks-With-A-Talking-Whatever movie was different. Here, the kid befriends not a talking skateboard or a magical bike. No, “Stardust” is the tender tale of a boy and his talking… vacuum cleaner.
The unintentionally comedic possibilities seemed overwhelming. If I was going to watch any of these movies at all, it had to be the one with the lovable talking vacuum. But then I watched it.
“Stardust” wound up being the kind of children’s film with an insanely stupid premise that made me wish it had taken that stupid premise dead f***ing seriously. (As an example of what I mean, remember the incredibly disturbing Michael Keaton “Jack Frost”? If you can be reincarnated as a snowman, wouldn’t that completely shatter all of our religious and philosophical foundations?) So here we have a movie where a vacuum cleaner comes to life in the most painfully literal way – Stardust has pulsating animal organs inside his machine body. (I told you this thing would require therapy after viewing.) We’re told later on, in the movie’s idea of explanation, that the obnoxious kid hero’s scientist dad made the chip that brings Stardust to life by including samples of his own brain tissue (?!?) in the chip. O… kay…
The entire budget of the movie must have been spent on the God-mocking organic innards of dear Stardust, because this is one of the most downright incompetent movies I have reviewed since “The Christmas Tree” or “The Magic Voyage”. The sound design is such that you can’t hear a thing the characters are saying, and the set was designed by a clearly insane person (dig the eye-searing combination of shag rugs, lava lamps, and a wall that would make Jackson Pollock cry at night). Also, I’m going to be giving out a ton of Jake Lloyd Awards for Terrible Child Acting, and the story doesn’t end so much as the movie just… stops.
The Best Parts:
1 minute in – Oh, hey, a Hexbug! They were selling them at the Museum of Science gift shop this afternoon!
(I visited the Museum to sketch during the day, then came home and watched this movie. That’s why the bad science hurt even worse than it normally would have.)
3 minutes in – Non-organic things do not have DNA! What the hell writers?
And then it turned out, later on, that this should have been taken as foreshadowing…
7 minutes in – Why did you kill it, why?
14 minutes in – I just wanted a stupid DTV kid’s movie about a talking vacuum cleaner. 😦
19 minutes in – WOAH! 🙂
23 minutes in – “I have no concern for your physical injuries! I love this old crappy vacuum more than you!”
28 minutes in – Right. This movie is actively f**king with my head. It has to be. How much do you suppose it cost to rent thy python for this one scene?
36 minutes in – Obligatory “Terminator” Quote. (See “Classic Quotes” below.)
39 minutes in – Do you think maybe you could clean the poor sucker (heh) out?
43 minutes in – “And MY axe!”
47 minutes in – I take it this scene isn’t going to end like it does in “Let the Right One In”?
48 minutes in – Random Power Glove!
49 minutes in – A lot of things are older than dinosaur poop.
50 minutes in – Oh, oh God, what the hell?!? That vacuum cleaner bag has veins!
57 minutes in – David Cronenburg himself would weep at this sight.
1 hour in – Fantastic job kids. Now your biomechanical nightmare machine has a taste for meat.
1 hour, 4 minutes in – Joey Lawrence is suddenly being a total dick for no reason. Also, the horrible machine-animal thing can poop.
1 hour, 7 minutes in – That sad thing is, Charlie doesn’t even talk like a scientist. I know scientists, I’ve worked with scientists, scientists are friends of mine, and with a generously wide net you could even say that I am a scientist. We all talk like normal people, not a fountain of SAT vocabulary words.
1 hour, 8 minutes in – I felt it before but now I know for sure that these two are former “Alex Mack” bad guys.
1 hour, 12 minutes in – Suddenly, we are in a “Home Alone” Plot movie — for about half a minute until the movie gets bored and goes on to something totally different.
1 hour, 14 minutes in – I will be impressed if this movie can get any stranger than this scene.
1 hour, 15 minutes in – “Well, let’s just see what’s broken in your old vacuum cleane– OH HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!!! KILL it! Kill it with fire! And then kill it with ice and lightning too! Then nuke it from orbit!!!”
1 hour, 18 minutes in – “Surprisingly, the Artificial Intelligence researching community did not collectively sh*t itself over this entire building of machines that have spontaneously gained self-awareness. Because this is a sh*tty kids movie; that’s why.”
1 hour, 21 minutes in – So… we still don’t know whose side the teacher is on.
1 hour, 23 minutes in – * The scene where Charlie learns that part of his father’s brain tissue is in the chip that brought Stardust to life. *
(“Oh, getting my own brain out was the easy part! The hard part was getting my brain out…!”)
1 hour, 28 minutes in – You know, there is a ton of stuff I could say about this scene, but… I just don’t care anymore.
1 hour, 33 minutes in – “And ten years later, the existence of a self-aware biomechanical life form completely altered the world. Worldwide philosophical and legal foundations were challenged, religious leaders lost their minds, and humans were forced to reevaluate what the word “alive” actually means.
“Except none of this happened, because this is a sh*tty DTV children’s film.”
1 hour, 35 minutes in – And here’s where the movie just ends.
“Come out you little Rodentia biomorph!” – Charlie
“I’LL be back!” – Charlie, except out of his Jake Lloyd Award-winning mouth, it sounds more like, “ON-gee BLECH!!!”
Things I Learned from this Movie:
* – Scientists, always put a little bit of yourself into your work. In the most painfully literal way possible.
* – Don’t clean up dog puke with a vacuum. (A) It’s disgusting and (B) you’ll wind up with a hideous machine with animal organs inside.
* – Don’t leave barely mobile robot buddy unattended at school!
Things That Can Save Any Movie:
Cool Creatures? A self-aware vacuum cleaner with horrible pulsating organs inside.
Good Soundtrack? No.
Hot Guys? How much do you like guys who look like Joey Lawrence?
Pretty Scenery? No.
Nifty Animation/Effects/Art Direction? Any kid who sees the horrible pulsating organs inside the vacuum will be scarred for life.
Drinking Game Potential? Drink when there is a shot of the sin against nature hiding within the innocuous-looking old vacuum.
Head Movie Potential? I will say no, because you will fear your vacuum forever afterward.
An Artist View Entertainment film released in 1998. Written and directed by Charles F. Cirgenski.
A bunch of people who should be ashamed, including a guy who looks alarmingly like Joey Lawrence.
IMDB page – Who, for a moment, seemed to be in denial that this film existed.