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KIDS ON FILM

For Many, Understanding the Plot Is a 'Mission: Impossible'

In "Mission: Impossible," Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt, a U.S. spy in Prague on the run from his own government, intent on finding out who the real enemy is with the help of some former spies and a few latex masks. (Rated PG 13).

May 30, 1996|LYNN SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The impossible thing about this movie, according to some kids who saw it in Irvine, wasn't so much the mission as the plot.

Even though the audience hummed along enthusiastically whenever the familiar theme music from the old TV show came on, many seemed to agree with 15-year-old Courtney Kendrick's assessment: The movie "was confusing."

Her friend Jason Reed, 14, said, "[In] some parts, I was clueless on, like why they wanted the disc." (As the movie opens, Hunt's team is sent to an embassy party to obtain a computer disc with a list of all U.S. covert agents on it.) "It's kind of more like an adult movie," Jason said.

(Au contraire. I felt like raising my own hand after Jim Phelps explained the mission to his team and then asked: "Any questions?")

None of the kids knew the Cold War term "mole," which was key in this story of a search for a double agent.

David Rice, 15, said he understood the movie, though, and tried explaining it:

"People wanted NOC lists. It's like all agents from around the world, and so they kind of set up a plan so they could stop somebody from getting it, but the people who really wanted it were the guys who were trying to stop it, and Tom Cruise didn't know that and . . . it's hard to explain."

Asked if he understood the plot, Jamie Thomas, 14, who'd come from Huntington Beach, said, "Yeah. Sort of. "Not really."

On the positive side, the story line was so impossible to follow that it offered some the luxury of detachment: They could contemplate the face of Tom Cruise without distraction.

"I think his nostrils are different shapes," said Sam Robinson, 14. "Everybody's are," countered Joanne Allen, 15.

And, most of the kids said that even if they didn't really understand the movie, they liked it anyway and found it exciting. Amanda Smith, 14, said she wouldn't mind seeing it again to get a better grasp of the story.

Jamie Thomas went so far as to call it the best movie he'd ever seen because "the whole thing was action."

Kids agreed there were two action/special effects highlights: a high speed chase involving a train and a helicopter and a break-in involving a high security computer room at the CIA where no one can touch a wall or the floor without setting off alarms.

Of course, most had already seen these scenes in the TV ads. Sean Martin, 14, said he felt as if he already had seen the whole movie (which shows some blood, a few sudden explosions and no sex).

Younger than most viewers, 4-year-old Kyle Petersen of Orange said the movie didn't scare him. "We just saw 'Mission In Possible,' " he proclaimed with pride. "It was funny."

His mother said his favorite part was when a nosy rat threatened to blow the whole operation in the computer room. Maybe in a few years, he'll learn about moles.

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