Theodore Rex (1995)


Justin’s rating: A delicious dino dud

Justin’s review: Theodore Rex is the kind of movie that, if you think about it at all, you’ll convince yourself that you dreamed it up after you overdosed on Taco Bell crunchwrap supremes. “Hey guys, wasn’t there… wasn’t there a buddy cop movie about a dinosaur teaming up with Whoopi Goldberg? No, no, that’s too silly to even ask. Let’s do another Bell run.” Yet my friends, this one actually happened. And it’s an express train to weirdville that you have to experience at least once in your life.

The film opens with the strangest crawl I’ve ever seen — literal bullet points about some billionaire who is using a “New Eden missile” to usher in another ice age and repopulate the world with pairs of frozen animals from his ark — which completely spoils any suspense about who the villain is. I’ve never seen a movie do that right out of the gate, especially for a detective movie, but we can’t spend any time pondering that because we have so much more bonker territory to cover. Basically, there’s a Jurassic Park rich guy who brought dinosaurs back to life (as human-sized sentient people) and now wants to wipe out people to bring back even more extinct critters. Also, there’s Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but more toned down.

The best I can describe Theodore Rex’s vibe is that it’s kind of a mix of that old Dinosaurs sitcom, Howard the Duck, and the Super Mario Bros. movie with a bit of Demolition Man’s clunky cyberpunk future. Basically, I’m talking about that awkward feel of having actors try to play off of life-size jittery puppet antagonists. The ’90s tried to do this a few times, and it never ended well. Goldberg even knew that this was a stinker before she got involved, and it literally took the threat of a lawsuit and an extra $2 million in her paycheck to keep her on the set. The studio knew it was a stinker, and sent it straight to video after funding it with a theatrical-level budget. It was a mess, and once you watch it, it’s your mess too.

This is the kind of movie that doesn’t bother to explain itself until perhaps a third of the way in, and even then, it’s just a hodge-podge of bad editing choices, Dick Tracy-colored sets, and terrible dino lip dubbing. This is the kind of movie where people toss out terms like “dinosaurologist,” “ninja grid,” and “dinocide” with a straight face, which in my opinion qualifies them for best drama actor Oscars. This is the kind of movie where the weird keeps piling on until you’re sitting there either laughing at the mountain of nonsense before you or you have a migraine.

I feel really bad for Whoopi, who clearly doesn’t want to be here and radiates that with her every gesture and line. You’d think that being paired up in a cop buddy movie with a psychic dino (yes, he’s psychic… somehow) to solve a murder would be every boy and girl’s dream, but it’s clearly killing her with every minute of film that goes by.

Yet there’s something glorious about Theodore Rex that really only could have come from the mid-1990s. I think it has a lot of potential to be a fun party movie if you need something for a whole bunch of people to mock as they absorb the silliness on display. So bad it’s good? Sure, I’d be agree with that judgment.

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