Rim of the World (2019) — McG does Goonies, poorly

“You can’t choose your family. But you can always make a new one.”

Justin’s rating: You know they’re not getting refunded for that summer camp fee

Justin’s review: There was a time that I was intrigued by the hot-shot director cryptically named McG, and that time was Charlie’s Angels. That flick was flashy and funny and cool in a dorky way, and it made me curious what else this three-lettered legend could do.

And then we got stuff like Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and Terminator Salvation and realized that the guy was pretty much a one-hit wonder. So he fell off my radar, and I guess that during this period he ended up wading into Netflix’s deep coffers and making his own interpretation of a Spielbergian ’80s kid flick.

That brings us to Rim of the World, a movie that’s curiously not for anyone in particular. You ever see one of these, where it’s so all over the place that you’re not exactly sure who the target audience is supposed to be? That’s this movie. It stars kids, it has that Goonies/E.T. vibe going on, but it throws in too much McG-sponsored adult humor to really be for kids. But it’s also a little too simplistic and shallow to be for the Stranger Things crowd, too. Anyway, I watched it, so maybe “cranky movie reviewer” was its intended watcher.

Just as an alien invasion crashes down on earth, four kids at the titular summer camp find themselves cut off from adult supervision and in possession of a crypto-key from the space station (don’t ask) that somehow is supposed to save the world. All they need to do is bike it across a war-torn Los Angeles, evade a bad CGI monstrosity, confront every one of their convenient backstory traits, and get the key to JPL.

The kids in question are Alex, a nerdy coward; Zhenzhen, a mostly silent movie-obsessed orphan; Dariush, a mouthy rich kid; and Gabriel, a tough juvie. They’re likable enough, although they suffer from having adult screenwriters shove unbelievable dialogue into their mouths at times. I think we end up rooting for Zhenzhen the most, because she seems to hit the mark as a true kid hero in the vein of a proper ’80s movie.

But let’s not get carried away with ourselves here — Stand By Me or even Space Camp, this is not. Apart from the summer camp opening, the rest of the adventure beats on this journey are generic and unexciting. On top of that, McG makes a whole lot of surface comparisons to ’80s movies without showing any understanding what made them more than special effects, BMX bikes, and tinted camera lenses. But then again, I guess surface filmmaking is his thing.

Rim of the World had a few charming moments, but mostly settled for mediocrity garnished with too much bland CGI.

Didja notice?

  • How does everyone know Alex’s name when he gets there?
  • That counselor really needs to button his shirt
  • “It’s more poo than canoe in there”
  • Every time this rich kid gets beat down, it’s good for the soul
  • Well that’s one of the worst CGI aliens I’ve seen in a while, and I’ve seen A Quiet Place

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