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KIDS ON FILM

'Matinee' Is 'Dorky,' They Find

February 11, 1993|LYNN SMITH | Lynn Smith is a staff writer for The Times' View section.

In "Matinee," teens learn about life, love and radiation during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis when a Hollywood director (John Goodman) goes to Key West, Fla., to preview his novelty film "Mant" ("Half man. Half ant. All Terror!"). (Rated PG)

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Here is another baby-boomer nostalgia trip that leaves '90s kids blank-faced and yawning.

Eleven-year-olds Rachael, Amanda and Sara said they couldn't award the movie more than one or two stars out of five.

Amanda: "I really didn't like it."

Sara: "It was a dumb story. Some of the parts, like, wouldn't happen. I'm sure that people just wouldn't, like, walk by the bombs."

Rachel: "It didn't make sense. They were running two stories at the same time."

Some adults might wonder whether such a movie might offer any history lessons about duck-and-cover drills, fallout shelters, the world on the brink, John F. Kennedy and the blockade.

"They didn't really tell you anything about it," Sara said. "They just said, 'We're going to bomb Cuba, and the world's going to blow up.' "

Or maybe at the least it might show the way we were at their age: shirtwaist dresses, madras shirts, transistor radios, black-and-white console TVs, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," Art Linkletter.

Sara: "Dorky."

Rachel: "Awkward."

One sure sign of the times is that the words from an old Lenny Bruce record, played surreptitiously by two boys in the movie, didn't faze these girls. They hear worse than that at school, they said.

What they learned the most, they said, was about stupid movies such as "Mant" and, of course, "Matinee."

"You know, there were really movies like that," I offered as the resident historian. "There was a movie called 'The Fly' in which a man got radiated and ended up with a head of a fly."

Sara: "I thought the special effects were good. But the movie was dumb. It wasn't even scary!"

"What did you think of John Goodman? Wasn't he funny? I laughed out loud when he was looking at the alligator and wondering what he could make out of it . . . a manigator, or an alliman."

Rache: "No. That wasn't one of his best movies. He did some better ones, like 'The Babe.' "

Amanda: "I liked the nurse. When the boys came up and said, 'Our friend fainted' and she said, 'He certainly did.' "

But in the end, Sara said, "of all the movies there are to go to, I'd recommend something else."

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