(Air Date: Week Of 05/15/96)
The latest sixties television show to be born again as (Universal Studios hopes) a big screen blockbuster is "Flipper". No dolphins, apparently, were exploited during the making of this new kiddie matinee flick, because the latest reincarnation of Sandy Ricks' lovable pet is animatronic. So is Flipper's unfortunate mother and a hammerhead shark named Scar. The Nassau setting appears to be idyllic, although the filmmakers did wind up making the movie in between tropical rainstorms.
Wide-eyed Elijah Wood is the new Sandy, who arrives to spend a summer with his eccentric Uncle Porter (Paul Hogan), even though he'd much rather escape the island so that he can catch an upcoming Red Hot Chili Peppers concert. Except for a pretty blonde named Kim, (played by Jessica Wesson) there are no attractions on the island that mean anything to Sandy until Flipper enters his life and he falls head over heels for the playful dolphin.
At a recent Saturday morning test screening, "Flipper" clearly appealed to its intended audience. It has all the elements: A good-looking and likable hero who chafes under adult authority (Wood), a mean and nasty-looking villain who wants to hurt the Dolphins (Jonathan Banks) and, for comedy relief, the always nutty Hogan whose character lives on SpaghettiOs and thrives in squalid surroundings. It even has the original Sandy (Luke Halpin, who starred in the two MGM films that led to the long-running series) in a cameo role as a fisherman.
"Flipper" may not be equally appreciated by the parents who bring their kids to see it, but as wholesome family fare goes, it's inoffensive & relatively painless. And charming Elijah Wood, who didn't have Kit Culkin for a father, could easily supercede his "Good Son" co-star as every grade schoolgirl's favourite pinup.
Copyright 1996 Monica Sullivan
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