Jack (1996)
March 28, 2015 7:31 AM - Subscribe

Because of an unusual aging disorder that has aged him four times faster than a normal human being, a boy enters the fifth grade for the first time with the appearance of a 40 year old man.

Directed by Francis Ford Coppolla (really?), and starring Robin Willams, Diane Lane, Bill Cosby, and Fran Dreschler, the movie scores a low 17% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Roger Ebert:

Williams works hard at seeming to be a kid inside an adult body, and some of his inspirations work well. But he has been ill-served by a screenplay that isn't curious about what his life would really be like.

James Berardinelli, Reel Views:

Robin Williams is entirely believable as a ten-year old. He has all the mannerisms and vocal inflections perfected -- whining when he doesn't get his way, pulling at his shirts, adjusting his pants, and so forth. It's almost as if he regressed back into childhood for the duration of filming. (Then again, has Williams ever really grown up?) The only recent movie where an adult so perfectly emulated a child was Big, and, indeed, Jack has much in common with the Tom Hanks feature, both in terms of subject matter and broad audience appeal. Williams brings a lot of humor to his portrayal, but, with Francis Ford Coppola in control, the comic's eccentricities are kept carefully under reign, and this results in a near-perfect performance.

Owen Glieberman, Entertainment Weekly:

The movies directed by Francis Ford Coppola during the 1970s (The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II; The Conversation and Apocalypse Now) incarnated the full, glorious maturation of the American cinema....Now he gives us Jack, a syrupy comedy starring Robin Williams as a 10-year-old boy in a man’s body. The sort of "catchy" concept that sounds like it was dreamed up during a power breakfast at Spago, Jack has a few funny and tender moments, but it’s a synthetic, rather drab movie, one that seems linked less to experience, or even to fantasy, than to other movies — Big, of course, and also E.T., Mask, and Phenomenon. It’s a feel-good casserole that got left in the microwave too long.

Janet Maslin, New York Times:

Francis Ford Coppola's ''Jack'' is about a boy whose body ages at four times the normal rate. His condition is peculiar and the film is, too, despite Mr. Coppola's best (and sometimes successful) efforts to keep it enjoyably light. While ''Jack'' has the egregious earmarks of a tritely inspirational story, it also has some unexpected flashes of real emotion. Within the limits and cliches of utterly predictable material, Mr. Coppola is still finally able to make this one from the heart.

Mick LaSalle, SFGate

There are moments in "Jack" -- like an hour's worth -- where one feels trapped inside some bizarre Williams hell. The setups are absurd, and the poignancy is unrelenting. Williams' naked emotion makes it hard to dismiss "Jack" with derisive laughter. But a little laughter would come as a relief.

The Dissolve considers Jack as part of the Forgotbusters:

Jack is threadbare and deficient in terms of plot and characterization, yet as it creaks into the home stretch, it lurches for a sense of purpose, and struggles to supply uplift it hasn’t come close to earning.
posted by nubs (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Oh my god. This is what the McElroy brothers are talking about when they talk about "Jack disease". I never actually looked up the reference before.
posted by kmz at 1:22 PM on March 28, 2015

I saw this in the theater in 96. One of the worst date movies ever. At least I didn't pick it.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:17 AM on March 29, 2015

For me, the movie just swung between being really awkward/uncomfortable in many places to overly maudlin. I thought Diane Lane was fantastic and actually, I think the better movie might have been about the parents.
posted by nubs at 8:59 AM on March 29, 2015

I realize this is just a movie, but if you Google progeria, the real life disease that inspired this film, the cutesy Robin Williams as a ten year-old bullshit will turn your stomach. Kids with progeria do age much faster than normal, but that doesn't mean they just have a normal growth/aging cycle sped up. It means they are aging like old people even while they are still growing. It's heart-breaking and complicated. This movie is a bullshit gag that makes no attempt at all to examine that kind of life.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:21 AM on March 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yes, I'd seen video of children with progeria before I ever heard of this movie. They don't look like normal adults; they look like ancient, wizened children. I found the idea of Hollywood turning that into "healthy adult actor acts like ten year old for laffs" so offensive that I have never and probably will never see this movie.
posted by orange swan at 9:45 AM on March 31, 2015

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