You’ll certainly be surprised by the new sci-fi thriller, “Race To Witch Mountain.” Not necessarily because of the amazing special effects or the fact that the movie actually has its share of funny moments. The surprise is if you’re planning on taking your kids to this PG-rated Walt Disney film, you might want to think twice. The usually family friendly brand has made a questionable move by producing a film where the bad guys not only carry guns but shoot them several times at the kids in the movie.
First, we’re introduced to Jack Bruno (Dwayne Johnson), a Las Vegas taxi driver who has had a rough life, got into some trouble, but is now doing his best to live on the straight and narrow. He happens to be on duty the day the Sci-Fi Convention hits Sin City and takes on two unearthly passengers, Sara and Seth, who after some time, admit to Jack that they are aliens from another planet. They pick up a UFO expert along the way who helps them to figure out how to get back home. In comes the bad guys, otherwise known as the U.S. government agents, who have stolen Sara and Seth’s spaceship and now want to get a hold of them to find out what makes them tick. Sounds innocent enough, that is until the bad guys start chasing the them down with guns blazing, shooting at Jack and the kids at will. There’s even one of the agents who insists he’s missing out on the action by not having his own gun.
Since when does Disney sanction this kind of violence in their movies? Sure, as adults watching, we can figure out that the kids in the film are aliens who can protect themselves and even have the ability to fight back. But this isn’t necessarily an adult movie. It’s billed as a family flick, and so I wondered, exactly how would an 8-year-old feel watching the heroes constantly running for their lives, as they dodge the agents’ bullets and this menacing Robocop-looking machine called a Siphon that the military from their planet has sent to assassinate them. That’s right: assassinate, murder, destroy. The machine has one mission and that is to kill the kids. It all just seems too much for a little kid to digest properly.
The movie isn’t completely without merit. If your son or daughter is into science fiction and knows a thing or two about wormholes and space exploration, they’ll find it fascinating and love the references made in the movie. Sara and Seth do have cool powers (albeit not always used at the most appropriate times) and by the end of the movie, you’re really happy that they’ve completed their mission.
Probably the most redeeming quality the film has is the casting of Dwayne (don’t call me the Rock anymore) Johnson. While I would love to eventually see him tackle a movie with some real depth, the guy is good at what he does and his comedic talent has grown and developed remarkably well. But he should think about funneling those talents into a project that doesn’t send out mixed messages.
Kids are so sophisticated these days, but for the ones who aren’t, “Race to Witch Mountain” may just be too much to handle. The movie might have felt better to me if it had a PG-13 rating, but since it doesn’t, my advice is not to be caught off guard if your kids end up asking more questions than you anticipated by the time the credits start rolling.