Meanwhile, Jack comes to, and his POV shot is a close-up of Dr. Grant. Gah! Grant says, "Welcome back to Area 52!" 52, eh? So, the aliens finally kicked the government out? Hey, it's their own fault for moving in with an alien race they only discovered a few decades ago. I tried to tell them it was nothing serious with those aliens—they just needed a place to crash. And yes, I'll show myself out for that one.
"Actually, you died and ended up in Movie Hell. The film you'll be watching for your first 1,000 years is Under the Rainbow
Grant tells Jack that he can either help or go directly to prison. Umm... what for? Don't bother to ask; no one else does. Then Jack is offered $500,000 for his help. Wait, you mean the fate of the world isn't even worth one... meeel-yun dollars anymore?
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Let's just forget this threadbare offer, and move on. Jack asks, "You know you could have just said that instead of shooting me with a dart?" Grant waits. Waits a little longer. And then he says, "Yes." Ha, Chevy, you still got it! See, it turns out they have a long-running feud. Either that, or Grant just likes to shoot people. Combined with the General who wants to round up children that no one will miss, I'm slowly starting to understand why Jack was glad to get out of this place.
Apparently, the offer was good enough for Jack to stay, because the next shot is him walking along a corridor beside Grant. Marsha catches up with them, starts a completely unimportant sentence, and then she... falls. Madam? Sir? Can anyone spare a laugh for a poor old joke? Oh, bless you, kind madam or sir.
Jack asks, "Do you have an inner ear problem or something?" No, just an inoperable script problem. Grant introduces Marsha (again) as the "leading researcher" in the area of "superhuman abilities". Wait, wasn't she a psychologist a couple of scenes ago? Is she working two jobs to make ends meet?
In case her mile-wide grin isn't tipping him off, Grant explains to Jack that "she's also quite a fan of yours." Well, there's got to be at least one. What was it Byron wrote? Something about even dwarves always finding someone smaller to impress?
Marsha tells him that she has all his comic books, in several different languages, and so on. Look, guys, this movie is obviously targeted towards comic book geeks. Flatter us, or at least ridicule us in a clever way. And then comes the Zenith logo again, which is completely unnecessary, because the next scene is simply the three of them walking into the control room nearby.
Inside, the guys in white coats applaud "the return of Zoom", for whatever reason. Zoom asks for a show of hands: "Who does not live with their mom in their basement?" Only Dr. Grant raises his hand, which is followed by the Awkward Silence Which Is Supposed To Be Funny™. Ah, thanks, movie, I figured it out now: You have nothing but contempt for your audience.
But this is the perfect opportunity to mention the movie's most annoying feature: the musical equivalent of canned laughter. You know the kind: the character making the joke is silent for a few beats, during which three to four descending notes are played, just so everyone is absolutely clear that it's a joke. Actually, maybe I should be thankful. Without this musical motif, I might have mistaken this movie for a drama.
Next, the powers that be have assembled ten candidates, and I bet you're on pins and needles wanting know who's going to be on the "new Zenith Team". Almost as if there wasn't a Superhero Roll Call montage just a few minutes ago that showed the four finalists. (By the way, is it wise to name your new team after your old team that was a spectacular failure?) While the three adults watch from the control room, the ten kids enter a hangar, accompanied by... great, more funny music!
Jack is puzzled, since A) the candidates are all young (which indeed makes no sense, once you factor out the explanation that this is a kid's movie), and B) he hasn't heard of anybody being exposed to gamma radiation. Marsha Mirror-Glasses assures him that her "studies in metahuman psychophysiology have made gamma treatments obsolete". Which explains exactly nothing. Unless her "studies" consisted of running around and jamming needles into pregnant women's bellies.
Jack shows off more of his unlikable streak. "I'm sorry, must have dozed off there for a minute." Hey, she was answering your question. It's not her fault your brain can't keep up.
Onto the dreaded "tryouts" montage, where each kid shows off their powers to the government guys, all set to loud rock music. The first girl can blink really fast, and she can make Grant do the same thing. It's not as funny as it sounds. Marsha admits that "she was better in the audition". You mean... this isn't the audition? And that all ten of them made it through the first round? Anyway, the next shot is of Blinky's file, which gets a big red "Rejected" stamp. Real subtle. Anyway, she obviously had no chance, since she wasn't in the Roll Call montage in the first place.
Now, where was this stamp when Tim Allen was reading the script?
Dylan is next. He's all rebel, all the time. He's so cool he can't be bothered to chew gum with his mouth closed. Jack sees him and goes, "Oh, dude!" Which is almost funny. Unfortunately, they'll be beating this joke into the ground for the remainder of the film.
Dylan then turns invisible, surprising Grant and Jack. Wait, I thought there was an audition? Shouldn't they have already known the kid could do this? On top of that, they have his file in front of them, so there's really no excuse for this kind of ignorance. Regardless, Dylan gets his black "Approved" stamp, complete with a zing! sound. Someone must have blown a load of money on this soundtrack. It sure wasn't poured into the script.
Next up is a boy who can put a sheet of paper in his mouth, and bombard Jack's face with spitballs at the rate of a machinegun. And... they reject him? What?! He'd be perfect! All you have to do is replace the paper with a sheet of a lead. He'd be a living gun! In fact, they should do that right now in this very scene!
"Want to buy some crack? You can pick any rock on my face."
Next is Cindy, whom we last saw becoming consumed with Trick Or Treat Rage. She sings the Alphabet Song, much to Jack's annoyance. But Marsha is all supportive and smiling. Jack says that this is not a super power, and that her voice is average. This comment makes me think there was supposed to be some kind of American Idol gag here, because there are three people sitting at a table judging the candidates, and the female judge is in the middle, and Tim Allen is wearing a tight black T-shirt. But I guess this surely hilarious joke got lost somewhere in the shuffle.
Cindy does not take the criticism well, though. She angrily grabs the table and throws it away. From this scene on, I absolutely hated this character. Seriously, if you're putting together a superhero team, why would you want a super-strong little girl with a shorter temper than Sean Penn? She doesn't need training; she needs restraining. Nevertheless, she's "Approved".
Summer's up next, and it turns out her power is actually not "making food explode", but rather "telekinesis". She mentally lifts a glass and shatters it against the wall. Why do half of the candidates feel the need to smash something? Well, they're mostly children and teenagers, so that would explain it. Unfortunately, this is more proof that composing a super-team entirely out of young people is just a dumb idea.
Jack is not that impressed, and makes a silly noise. Summer gets annoyed and tells him that she "[sees] things". Oh, no. Don't, don't, don't... Jack leans forward and whispers: "Do you see dead people?" Arrrgh, too late, he did it. It's been eight years, people. Haley Joel Osment is old enough to have his own DUI now! Stop referencing that movie!
Summer accuses Jack of suffering from an inferiority complex. She shows her Annoyed Face, ascendant Arrogant. Yeah, she's bitter. Don't expect any further character development than that.
The next kid introduces himself as "Jupiter, the Gas-Giant", and the adults quickly say they need no demonstration of his powers. The verbatim line is, "Oh, nonononononono", which is pretty close to what I was saying. Of course, he lets one rip anyway. Cut to his file, where several red "Rejected"s are stamped all over it. Do you see? Do you see the kind of jokes I'm subjecting myself to for your entertainment?
Next up is Tucker. He just stands there, until Jack asks, "Is he doing it, or is he just naturally that chubby?" Nice one. Tucker gets his "Lou Ferrigno trying to do higher math" look, and expands his foot. Jack and Marsha appear to be intrigued by this power. Meanwhile, Dr. Grant has Tucker's sock on his face. This could be a joke, but I really couldn't tell you, since they don't provide the "punchline" music.
So, either Tucker let his athlete's foot go for too long, or he's pregnant.
Tucker then expands his head, and the CGI work is bad enough to make me groan out loud. The Foley guys compound the pain by adding the sound of someone rubbing a balloon. Marsha finds this power to be "Soooo cool!" You mean, making his body parts huge and producing balloon sound effects? You're right! He can totally take up a career as a circus clown! He'll rake in the cash, retire at thirty, and most importantly, I'll never have to look at him again.
"Giada De Laurentiis? What are you doing here?"
And yes, I know the obvious dirty jokes you expect me to make about his body-part-inflating abilities. But I'm absolutely not going there.
By the way, it appears simple continuity is too much to ask from this movie, because the position of the "Approved" stamp on Tucker's file wanders around between shots. Head, when was the last time you met your old friend Desk?
Next up comes sheer horror. The next candidate produces a big giant booger, which explodes and covers Dr. Grant with slime. I don't even want to talk about this. Disgusting doesn't even begin to describe it.
"I've heard of movies blowing up in your face, but this..."
The next scene has the four "approved" team members getting measured by guys in white coats. I honestly have no idea why they picked these four (other than they were in the "funny" montage earlier), because all the other candidates were just as useless. I mean, come on. There must be somebody out there with better powers than these four.
Marsha takes Jack to introduce him to the team, and they're sitting in a classroom somewhere. Summer is writing something down, and Dylan materializes in front of her. She's not surprised, and neither am I—I already guessed he's something a show-off. He accuses her of reading his mind (and boy, that must have been intriguing), but she says she can "just feel stuff". Which is an entirely new power we've never heard of before, unless you count the Sixth Sense joke from the tryouts. So, I guess her powers consist of a big ol' "mental powers" catch-all.
Marsha enters and says she wants to introduce them "to a very great man." Wait, there's a great man in this movie? Where's he been all this time?
Sadly, she means Jack. He thanks her for her kind words by burping long and loud. In case that joke was too subtle, he adds, "Sorry, don't remember eating that." And in case that was too subtle, it's followed by a few notes of—that's right!—Punchline Music! Oh, so I'm supposed to laugh now, you say?
Dylan asks, "Great man, or washed up loser?" Jack, or perhaps Tim Allen himself, says, "It's a fine line." Marsha, however, has all the trust in the world in Jack's training abilities.
Jack asks if the kids know why they're here. Cindy's hand shoots up, and from her mouth comes an annoying stream of "Me, me, me, me!" She rattles of some junk about "special kids for a special cause", which she obviously got fed by Marsha, who's mouthing the lines along with her, and grinning like she just taught her favorite poodle to roll over.
"I want to play the annoying girl! Pick me me me me me!"
Dylan, still fulfilling his rebel duties, yells that it's "all a lie! We're here 'cause we're different!" Summer immediately says, "Dylan!" almost like her next line is, "Not while we're eating!"
They all start talking at once. The only thing I can make out is Dylan yelling at Cindy, telling her that being able to pick up a car does in fact mean she's different. Again, Summer doesn't like that kind of talk: "Don't tell her that!" Oh, come on. If she didn't notice she's different by now, her brain must have been hibernating for years. Tucker accuses Dylan of being a jerk, and the whole riotous scene comes to an end when Marsha whistles loudly with her fingers.
After everyone does the obligatory "holding your ears in pain" routine, Jack tells them that he spent a lot of time at this place, and it ruined his life. At this, there's a "told you so" look from Dylan, while Tucker looks like he has mild indigestion. Summer has her mouth open, and Cindy apparently doesn't understand a word of what Jack said. A tableau for eternity.
"Excuse me, I'm being told that... all of your careers are over. Yes, definitely over."
Jack rants about how the military wants to expose them to gamma 13 radiation, and advises the kids to get some lead underwear. I've got a better idea: Give them some lead shoes, and take them out swimming!
Marsha calls Jack out into the hallway before he says any more. I mean, why did he suddenly decide to go all jackass on the kids? I mean, besides being "the troubled hero", and all that. Did he find half a million in his sock drawer last night, and decide he didn't need the cash, after all?
Cut to the control room, where Grant and the General share some uninteresting talk. This scene exists to show the Concussion Countdown Screen again, which informs us that there are now eight days left. So, let me get this straight: they only had twelve days to save the world, and they wasted four full days rounding up a few kids? If my head meets my desk one more time, there's a good chance they might decide to run off to Vegas together and get married.
By the way, we get a closer look at the diagram showing Concussion's path. It hasn't changed, but the starting point seems to be Long Beach, California, and Area 52 appears to be somewhere in the Nevada desert. And it... really shouldn't take twelve days to make this trip. Unless, you know, Concussion is taking his sweet time, and seeing the sights. Stopping off at the Grand Canyon, and so forth.
Yep, twelve days to cross this vast expanse.
Actually, it's even worse than that. When we were first introduced to Concussion, we were told he was going at 25 MPH, and would appear in twelve days. Meaning, at the end of twelve days, he would have traveled about 7,200 miles. My friends at Wikipedia and my measuring tape inform me that the United States is about 2,800 miles wide. Correct me if I'm wrong (I've always sucked at geography), but it looks like Concussion should actually emerge somewhere in the frickin' Atlantic!
The General... wait, I'm looking up the name now. I'm tired of waiting for the movie to tell me. Aha, it's "General Larraby". Small wonder nobody ever says it.
Larraby threatens that if the kids aren't combat-ready soon, he'll "dose 'em with enough gamma radiation to sterilize a trailer park!" Grant says if that happens, "you can rest assured, sir, that I will do everything in my power to make sure it's not my fault." Wait... is that supposed to be funny, or... Oh, there's the joke music, here to save the day. Whew!