The telegraphically named NO DESSERT DAD, 'TIL YOU MOW THE LAWN ineptly scrambles the conventions of lowbrow family comedy. Dumbed down to appeal to pre-teens exclusively, and continually violating its own rules of logic, it pulls rabbit after rabbit out of the same hat, with no apparent
concern for the number of coincidences it takes to cobble this mess together. Luckily, its direct-to-video release never forced the producers to contend with displaying that many words on a marquee.
Ken and Carol Cochran (Robert Hays and Joanna Kerns) are textbook suburban parents. Ken's an engineer at a fledgling software firm, where his brainstorm, a revolutionary computer game called "Super Grapevine," is now almost a year behind schedule, thanks to the meddlesome intrusions of his
overbearing supervisor J.J. (Larry Linville). At home, the younger Cochran kids, Justin (Joshua Schaefer) and Monica (Allison Meek), are alienated from their parents and constantly harassed by their sadistic older brother, Tyler (Jimmy Marsden). It doesn't help that Ken, unable to stand up for
himself, endures unending humiliations at work and can't even take the time to watch his son win the big Little League game.
The Cochrans decide to enter a self-help program to stop smoking, using a regimen of hypnosis tapes. Justin and Monica accidentally discover that by doctoring the tapes, they can plant all sorts of latent suggestions which become magically realized later, with their parents apparently none the
wiser. After successfully modifying the dinner menu, they set about arranging for all kinds of swell perks and presents. But when Justin successfully manipulates his parents into sending Tyler to a military academy, he and Monica stop to examine their consciences, deciding henceforth to use their
newfound powers for good and not for evil.
Ken is forced to join a "weekend warrior" outing in the woods at the behest of the CEO, who is a paintball fanatic. Emboldened by hypnotic suggestions planted by the kids, Ken emerges the company champion. Not stopping there, he demands credit for his game design, finally garnering the respect
of company brass.
NO DESSERT DAD adheres strictly to the point of view built into the title--that of kids goofing on short-sighted oblivious parents--but the meandering narrative creates the feeling of something made up as it goes along, much as a four-year-old might tell a story. This, coupled with largely
infantile humor, leaves the queasy but vivid impression that this is a film written not only for kids, but quite possibly by kids. None of this will is likely dissuade the post-linear, computer-driven, cybergarten audience, but it promises to be slow going for anyone over the age of 10.
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: PG
- Review: The telegraphically named NO DESSERT DAD, 'TIL YOU MOW THE LAWN ineptly scrambles the conventions of lowbrow family comedy. Dumbed down to appeal to pre-teens exclusively, and continually violating its own rules of logic, it pulls rabbit after rabbit out o… (more)