Picture this: a device that can accelerate your molecular structure. You’re experiencing hypertime - moving so fast as to be invisible to everyone else. And the world around you appears frozen in time. Pretty cool, huh?Now imagine you’re a high school senior named Zak (played by 22 year old Jesse Bradford) and the device is a garish yellow wristwatch. It’s been sent to your dad (Robin Thomas), a genius college science professor, and you discover it by accident. But dad cares only about his work and has no time for his son (or his wife or daughter either, but they don’t count).
You use the watch to win over the attractive female Venezuelan exchange student (Paula Garcés), play some pranks on your school enemies and help your annoying black sidekick (Garikayi Mutambirwa) win a DJ contest at the neighbourhood rave. But then the evil manager of the local biotech company (Michael Biehn) kidnaps your dad. And he wants the watch back so he can take over the world. This is how Clockstoppers reduces an interesting idea to a generic action-adventure flick.
This Nickelodeon movie is being marketed as “family entertainment”, which should be warning enough for discerning viewers. The director is Jonathan Frakes, most famous for playing Commander Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He’s directed two Star Trek movies and a heap of television, and he approaches Clockstoppers like another small screen assignment: brightly coloured noise with a lot of close-ups. He doesn’t make good use of the screen, so there’s never anything interesting occurring in the background. None of the actors make an impression besides irritation, especially 3rd Rock from the Sun’s French Stewart as a zany scientist.
Why are so many bad American movies obsessed with lousy father-son relationships? It’s lazy shorthand character development. I can only assume the veritable platoon of writers (J David Stem, David N Weiss and brothers Rob and Andy Hedden) were hoping to give the audience something to relate to. Most of us had a father, even if less than half of us were sons.Continuing with the theme of indolence that characterises Clockstoppers, there’s also a rip-off from The Matrix, some lame Star Trek in-jokes and a forgettable teen rock soundtrack, including the inevitable contribution from Smash Mouth. Unfortunately, time doesn’t speed by while you’re watching Clockstoppers - if anything it slows.