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MOVIE REVIEW : 'Invisible Kid': Teen Fantasy Should Stay Invisible

April 12, 1988|MICHAEL WILMINGTON

"The Invisible Kid" (citywide) would have been much better if everything in it were invisible--including the movie itself. Blank leader projected on the screen would have been an improvement; you could have read a book under the light.

It's another atrocious teen-sex fantasy comedy with another high school dork-turned-hero, the sapped-looking Grover (Jay Underwood). Here the gimmick is an invisibility formula Grover stumbles onto while fumbling with his late father's basement researches.

Right away, the movie sets its shabby tone: The original formula was for a toilet bowl cleaner; the secret invisibility ingredient is pigeon droppings and later on, there's a scene where a nauseated Grover hides under the principal's desk while the villainous Mr. Baxter (John Madden Towen) puts on an unintentional gas attack.

As you'd expect, there are also romps through the girls' shower room--curiously tame ones--and several scenes where Grover and buddy Milton (Wally Ward), who apparently can't keep track of time, keep getting caught nude in the school hallways after their invisibility runs out.

The subplot involves a basketball point-shaving scandal, masterminded by the perfidious Baxter--climaxing in the most senseless state championship game since "Porky's Revenge." This bizarre contest is held in the local high school gym before a scant crowd who keep screaming "Go, Bears, Go!" long after the game has finished. Players repeatedly clout each other in the face in open court without a foul called; the clock keeps running even while the ball is out of bounds, and Grover substitutes himself into the game for a rousing finish--even though he isn't on the team.

Writer-director Avery Crounse has marginally better special effects than in his last effort: The appalling revolutionary war horror movie "Eyes of Fire." But "The Invisible Kid" (MPAA rated PG, despite salacious gags) also has the same strangely soporific, finicky style; the movie all but numbs you.

Karen Black plays Grover's Mom, a fate she really doesn't deserve. And Underwood plays Grover in a manic-depressive state of alternating perplexity and jollity, which sometimes inspires him to do ballet jumps and cry, "I'm laughing!" Perhaps, but he's the only one.

'THE INVISIBLE KID'

A Taurus Entertainment release of an Elysian Pictures production. Producer Philip J. Spinelli. Director/script Avery Crounse. Executive producers Crounse, Spinelli. Camera Michael Bernard. Editor Gabrielle Gilbert. Music Steve Hunter. With Jay Underwood, Karen Black, Wally Ward, Chynna Phillips, Brother Theodore.

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.

MPAA rating: PG (parental guidance suggested; some material may not be suitable for children).

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