REEL CRITIC:

I was in my seat in the darkened theater for only a short while before realizing that “Race to Witch Mountain” is a rollicking good time.

I admit that I held certain preconceived reservations about this production, but after only a few scenes, I came to appreciate that this is the sort of fare that I would wait all week for when I was a kid. I remember when my mom would put a quarter in my sweaty little hand, mash my fingers down over it as if to emphasize the admonition of “Don't lose it!” and push me out the door in the direction of the local theater. I loved those days, and I found a chance to relive them last Saturday afternoon at a matinée here in town.

After a mysterious crash landing in the desert draws the scrutiny of “certain authorities,” two rather startling teenagers, Sara and Seth, enter the taxi cab of one Jack Bruno (Dwayne Johnson) and the chase is on. I say “the chase” because I am not sure where one car chase ends and another one begins. The action is so furious that it's really hard to tell.

From the outset, Sara and Seth are obviously, from the perspective of the audience at least, not from this world. It's not that the kids aren't charming in their own odd way, but it's the things they do to get out of the scrapes that come on in waves.

They can read the thoughts of humans for one thing, and while Sara seems to be able to levitate inanimate objects, Seth has the ability to stop a speeding truck in its tracks by merely stepping in its way and allowing the vehicle to crash into him. And, of course, he walks away without a scratch. Good work, Seth. We were only worried for a minute there.

After that, the story takes off in a few other directions, but always within the continuity of the story itself. There are no bizarre left turns that leave the audience scratching their collective heads over something that makes no sense. This story, within the confines of the narrative, always makes sense even if it does belong to the world of sci-fi.

This movie was great fun and no tiny criticisms from this corner or any other are going to diminish that. This is one very enjoyable movie.

Also, it is nice to see Johnson finally shed the “Rock” persona that has been attached to him for far too long. I certainly can't put him in the same class with Laurence Olivier of course, but his days as a wooden stiff seem to be over. He was more than believable in this film, and I found myself cheering for him in more situations than I care to remember.

Rated PG for a few rugged action scenes, “Witch Mountain” runs for one hour and 39 minutes.


?JEFF KLEMZAK is a film fan from La Crescenta who loves to lapse back into his childhood from time to time.

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