Big Fat Mistake

A bland, obnoxious 88-minute infomercial for Universal Studios and its ancillary products, chief among them birthday boy E.T. (due for re-release this spring) and the studio tour, this is a kids film for children who won't shut up; it's loud enough to be heard over the deafening chatter of restless young'uns and strident enough to keep awake dozing parents who lost their taste for dim and dopey backlot comedies in the '70s. Frankie Muniz, TV's Malcolm in the Middle, doesn't break stride or sweat as Jason Shepherd, the fibber who cries wolf one too many times and winds up dancing with one when his school paper is stolen by conniving, heartless producer Marty Wolf (Paul Giamatti) and about to be turned into a summer blockbuster. With would-be galpal Kaylee (Amanda Bynes) in tow, Jason heads to L.A. to wreak havoc on Wolf's pitiful life, from dying the man blue to kidnapping his stuffed monkey to destroying his car and career--good times. Littered with TV's refuse (from Urkel to Screech to the Six Million Dollar Man, who still looks like a hundred bucks), this is less a comedy than a cautionary tale for young Muniz, who'd be wise to stay out of big-screen stinkers that render an actor's burgeoning résumé direct-to-Nickelodeon. And how is it that movies about the movie business always look like they were made by people who've never seen a movie, much less, uh, actually made one?


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