Meteor Man

Reviewed By Scott Weinberg
Posted 09/25/03 13:50:43

"Townsend's plummeting descent into family-friendly banality."
1 stars (Total Crap)

Meteors, as a rule, explode into flaming wreckage when they hit the ground. Kinda like Robert Townsend's career.

Saturday, August 7th 1993

Dear Diary,

Rob, Ed and I went to the movies tonight. We had no idea what we should see, although we knew our options were many. We hadn't been to a movie together in a few weeks so there should have been plenty of titles to choose from. Emerging from the huge cloud of pot smoke billowing through Ed's Chevy Blazer, we headed up to the box office. It was crowded.

Me: "The Fugitive"? Done.

Rob: "No. I have to wait to see it with my girlfriend."

Ed: "Me too. What's Rising Sun?"

Rob: "Based on the only Michael Crichton novel that sucks. Pass. How about Coneheads?"

Ed: "Stoned moron. We saw it three weeks ago."

Me: "Yeah, but it was funny. I ain't seeing Jurassic Park again either. Are we wasted enough to see Robin Hood: Men in Tights?"

Rob: "Saw it. How about The Firm?"

Me: "Saw it. How about In the Line of Fire"?

Ed: "Saw it. Damn good movie too."

Me & Rob: "Groan."

Ed: "Sleepless in Seattle?"

Me & Ross: <Blank Stare>

Me: "OK, we're seeing The freakin' Fugitive and you whipped little whiners can tell your junior wives that you DIDN'T see it yet. See how deception can be your friend?"

Ed & Rob: "Fine. Crybaby."

Me: "One for The Fugitive, please."

Zitface: "Sold out. Ten o' clock's sold out too."

Me: "My friends are morons."

So there we were with about 323 sweating idiots behind us as we desperately scrambled for a movie to see. Ed, ever the fan of urban, hip-hop and otherwise black culture, pushed in front of me and uttered the words that - to this day - still stand as a long-running in-joke between the three of us:

"One for Meteor Man please."

As a person who takes his movies quite seriously, I was appalled by his request. This meant that I now had to pull six of my own dollars (remember, this is 1993) out of my wallet and give it to a "black superhero spoof" that was written and directed by Robert Townsend. Oh and he's the star too.

As we walked past the concession counters, I loudly wondered to anyone within earshot about precisely WHO would buy a ticket for Meteor frickin' Man. Other than me, that is. And my idiot friends. We walked into the theater and I had my answer: nobody would buy a ticket for Meteor Man except for me and my two idiot friends.

This was a bad movie. So bad, in fact, that it led me to do something I've done only three times in my whole life (and not once since 1993): I walked out. Saw the last 65 minutes of In the Line of Fire. Money well spent.

A recent revisit to Robert Townsend's Meteor Man did nothing to change the perception that I'd made the right move back in '93. This is a bad movie. It's a fuzzy and horrifically lightweight little PG-farce that hopes to coast by on a host of limp little morality lessons despite the fact that the narrative (and particularly the humor) is so lifeless and flaccid that it inspires more yawns than smirks.

Since celebrities love to show up for a socially-aware back-pat-a-thon, Townsend was able to recruit a who's-who of Black Hollywood, although each successive cameo (Bill Cosby, James Earl Jones, Sinbad...Naughty By Nature?) makes one realize that for all the funny people parading across the screen...there are no laughs to be found. The big gag? The one they hawked in the trailers before exploiting 7 or 8 times throughout the movie? Meteor Man (a meek school-teacher struck by a green space rock) can fly, but is too cowardly to levitate any higher than a foot above the sidewalk.

Oh my sides.

Since it's apparently some sort of comedy, people may mistake Meteor Man for a spoof of superhero flicks. Sadly, such is not the case - as it takes wit and research to make a spoof of something. Meteor Man is simply a kid-centric superhero comedy, which puts it firmly among the ranks of Condorman and The Return of Captain Invincible in both quality and in how fondly it will be remembered.

If it seems I'm being just a bit too hard on Townsend and his harmless little fluff-piece, that's because Townsend once upon a time delivered the harsh and ballsy and brilliantly funny Hollywood Shuffle - and followed it up with a career full of pre-packaged flotsam and pathetic sitcom platitudes.

By the time you reach the moronic "everyday people are heroes/let's go get those dastardly drug dealers" nadir, you may find yourself feeling a little proud that you'd made it through such a formless and shallow film. It took me about nine years to get through this movie.

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