THEODORE REX blends children's picture and cop drama styles to odd but unsuccessful effect. The story of a space-age cop who teams up with a dinosaur on a case is far less interesting than the behind-the-scenes saga of this straight-to-video production.
Futuristic inner-city law enforcer Katie Coltrane (Whoopi Goldberg) is paired reluctantly with Theodore "Teddy" Rex (the voice of George Newbern), an English-speaking, human-sized T. Rex. Teddy, who desperately wants to become a detective, gets his chance to show his abilities as Katie's partner
after a suspicious "dino-cide" occurs. Police Commissioner Lynch (Richard Roundtree) sees hiring the bumbling dinosaur during the investigation as a way to smooth over human-animal relations in the community.
Katie and Teddy get few leads in their case until the son of Katie's friend, Sebastian, is kidnapped by the notorious Dr. Edgar Kane (Armin Mueller-Stahl). Katie and Teddy force a toymaker in cahoots with Kane to tell them where to find him. Meanwhile, Kane also kidnaps Molly Rex (the voice of
Carol Kane), Teddy's girlfriend, as part of his plot to create a new ice age by freezing a selected group of animals and sending them into orbit.
Finally, Katie and Teddy track Kane and his assistant, Dr. Shade (Juliet Landau), to their headquarters. Although they are taken prisoner at first, they break free and battle with Kane's henchmen. Kane attempts to put his plan into action by detonating his missile, but Teddy foils the scheme by
sending the evil doctor himself into orbit. For his bravery, Teddy is made a detective first-class, and he chooses Katie as his partner for all his future cases.
New Line's THEODORE REX probably never had a chance. The curious mix--BLADE RUNNER (1983) meets TV dino "Barney"--stumbles conceptually; yet, what might have been a cute kiddie movie in spite of itself also got damaged by the troubles on the set of the wildly expensive ($35 million) production.
Whoopi Goldberg's reluctance to undertake the film (she was forced to perform via legal action) was one of several reported backstage fiascos.
Goldberg seems stiff and uncomfortable in her one outfit--a black leather number that looks like a cast-off from Angela Bassett in STRANGE DAYS (1995). Yet, even at her least spirited, Goldberg gives more to the screenplay (written and directed by Jonathan Betuel, who directed MY SCIENCE PROJECT)
than it deserves, whether she is sparring with her rubbery costar or shooting at hairy assassins. (Considering the money spent on the production, it is somewhat surprising how low-budget the dinosaurs appear.)
Thematically, THEODORE REX has to do with following your dreams and not discriminating against fellow creatures. Unfortunately, the unlikely and superficially "color-blind" attitudes of the story muddles the message. Adult viewers may note, in a mix of bad choices, that Whoopi is treated as an
asexual "other," her character partakes in a police brutality episode that reverses the Rodney King racial dynamics in disturbing ways, and Richard Roundtree's African-American commissioner has the unfortunate surname of "Lynch." (Violence.)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: PG
- Review: THEODORE REX blends children's picture and cop drama styles to odd but unsuccessful effect. The story of a space-age cop who teams up with a dinosaur on a case is far less interesting than the behind-the-scenes saga of this straight-to-video production. F… (more)