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Mars, Not Stars

RocketMan
Space Caper: Forgetting its troubles with the Hubble Telescope,
NASA takes another chance by sending computer nerd
Fred Randall (Harland Williams) to Mars.

Newcomer Harland Williams practices his pratfalls on the Red Planet in 'RocketMan'

By Sarah Quelland

THE NEW DISNEY comedy RocketMan is designed to appeal to the fourth-grade sense of humor that lurks inside us all. Through a series of related mishaps, computer programmer Fred Randall (Harland Williams) gets selected as the replacement astronaut in a crew of three--plus a chimpanzee--on the first manned mission to Mars. When trouble comes, in the form of a vicious sandstorm on the Red Planet, it becomes uncertain whether the crew will make it back to the home planet that Randall calls a "giant blueberry." Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately, depending on your tolerance for Williams' mugging), Disney's penchant for happy endings ultimately prevails.

A cross between John Cusack and Martin Short, newcomer Williams (a standup comedian who showed up in Dumb and Dumber and Down Periscope) seems familiar and utterly likable. He plays the part of the klutzy, adolescent-minded accidental spaceman with a wonderful charm. The humor is strong enough to appeal to adults, with a few pokes at NASA that kids probably won't understand. The physical comedy is entertaining, and there's a nice sprinkling of bathroom humor, though the film doesn't go overboard in that direction. Surprisingly there are some serious--even slightly touching--moments. RocketMan doesn't pretend to be anything that it's not, and it's good for what it's worth: the price of admission.


RocketMan (PG; 93 min.), directed by Stuart Gillard, written by Craig Mazin and Greg Erb, photographed by Steven Poster and starring Harland Williams, Jessica Lundy and Beau Bridges.

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From the Oct. 16-22, 1997 issue of Metro.

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