Written by: Tonya Tribula, Special to CC2K
When I received my assignment to review Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, my first thought was, “How am I going to avoid dying from humiliation when I bring this up to the counter at the video store?” Hope that the person behind me was renting something worse? But alas, such relief was not to be had. I looked under “Family.” No SBG2. I looked under “Comedy.” No dice. So I was forced to actually ask the guy behind the counter, much in the manner of one renting a particularly nasty porn, “Uh, do you have Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2?” He looked it up, answered in the affirmative, and went to the very same “Family” section I had recently vacated. D’oh.
He returned emptyhanded and proceeded to search the seemingly endless wall of videos behind the counter while I turned red with embarrassment. But the DVD was found and as he hands it to me he said casually, “You know, this was the director’s last movie before he died in a car crash. It’s a shame, because he also directed some really good movies, like A Christmas Story.” With that in mind, I was tempted to go easy on this movie in memory of the late, great Bob Clark. (Who also directed Black Christmas, one of the most underrated horror movies of all time and a classic in my book. John Carpenter TOTALLY ripped off the opening sequence of Halloween from this film. But I digress.)
However, we’re talking about a 2004 Razzie nominee. (It lost to Catwoman.) A movie so wretched it has a score of 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.com. There is no sugarcoating this one. So, with a heavy heart, I present my thoughts on Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2.
Following the massive success of 1999’s Baby Geniuses ($27 million at the box office! The sad thing is, these movies are so cheaply made that that was actually a profit), SBG2 was released in 2004. I was worried that, having no knowledge of the first film, I would be lost going into SBG2. Thankfully, it seems to have little relation to its predecessor, which I think was about mad scientists or something. This film opens in a daycare center. The nicest daycare center in the history of the world, complete with a gigantic indoor treehouse. Four babies are sitting around a table babbling incoherently. Only they’re NOT babbling. As the daycare owner/genius baby mother says about five thousand times during the film, “I know they’re saying something, but I just don’t know what!” But thanks to the wonders of dubbing technology, we, the audience, are privy to these witty baby conversations.
There are four main babies. I don’t remember their names. I learned to identify them based on stereotype. There is a smart, sensitive baby, a comedian baby, a token girl baby, and a sassy, African-American baby, who says things like “This is off the hook!” As they converse about, um, baby life, we are introduced to the owners of the daycare center/parents of the smart, sensitive baby. Dad is Scott Baio!! I was actually glad to see a familiar face, although I felt sad that this is what Scott Baio has to do to make a living. They discuss their burning desire to know their baby’s every thought. Another way the director signifies that this is a high-class daycare: the lady is wearing a power suit.
Apropos of nothing, one of the babies tells a random story about a superhero child named Kahuna. We are taken back in time, to the East Berlin of 1962. A very random choice, considering the scenery and Nazi-esque costumes of the baddies suggest an earlier era. The main villain is played by Jon Voight, who adopts the most atrocious German accent in the history of cinema. He is holding orphan children captive. Or maybe he just runs the orphanage. I was never clear on that. Kahuna appears on the scene, drinks a magic green potion, grows weird muscles, kicks Jon Voight’s ass, and frees the orphans, who presumably go on to become East Berlin street punks.
Back in present day, the daycare center is preparing for the visit of a television mogul who is launching a new network for children. For some reason, this launch is happening at a daycare center rather than, say, a television studio. The television mogul is none other than…EVIL JON VOIGHT, complete with a crew of evil German henchmen/token henchwoman.
One of the babies happens to be gazing contemplatively out the window and notices the legendary Kahuna hiding in the bushes. What a coincidence! The tech-savvy baby gang decides to hack into Jon Voight’s computer because they are beginning to suspect that he is EVIL. They find a disc containing a show starring a man in a frog suit that will somehow be able to control the minds of children everywhere. Evil Jon Voight’s henchmen burst in and attempt to murder the babies, but the babies are saved by Kahuna, who then disappears.
Scott Baio’s teenaged niece, Kylie, who works at the daycare center, gets rejected by a jock and, in an angry furor, decides to take the babies to the children’s museum. This is where things get weird. OK, I don’t have kids, but it seemed bizarre to me that these children spent the whole movie in diapers. Like, wearing shirts, socks, shoes, even a scarf, but NO PANTS. This bothered me. Do people actually do this? Send their children into the world with no pants? Also, these babies appear to spend the whole movie, or at least on day, in the same diaper. GROSS.
While en route to the museum, men in coveralls appear out of nowhere and attack the babies and their hapless teen guardian. The men were presumably sent by Evil Jon Voight and yet bear no resemblance to his regular crew. EJV looks to be one of the top employers in the LA area. Again, Kahuna swoops in to save the day. He takes the babies to his lair in the Hollywood sign (so that’s what that thing is for!), which is all tricked out with a canal, gondolas, and super creepy holograms of clowns and animals. The babies find some sort of machine that gives them superhero identities: Brain Boy, Baby Courageous, Cupid Girl, Bounce Baby. But they agree that these identities do not fit them AT ALL and go back to normal (foreshadowing alert!)
Kylie stumbles across Zach, a teen boy who lives with Kahuna for some reason (my mind started to wander at this point…). It is clear they’d like to get it on, but can’t because of the babies and all. But I immediately snapped to attention when Kahuna began to converse with celebrities via some sort of video phone device. First he spoke with Whoopi Goldberg. And then…O-TOWN!!! This wasn’t explicitly stated, but I assumed that Kahuna’s video phone also had time travel capabilities, for how else could he converse with 2000’s hottest boy band? Honestly, this was the highlight of the film for me.
Kahuna then uses some sort of hologram to adopt the guise of a police officer, who looks to be from the year 1950, while contacting Scott Baio and his wife via the magic of the internet to tell them their babies and niece are in San Diego because they got on the wrong bus (?), but they’ll be safe in the hands of the San Diego police department. SB and wife are totally fine with this, but apparently it doesn’t cross their mind to notify the parents of the other babies.
As the babies settle in for the night, they are treated to the story of how Kahuna came to be his ass-kicking, hologram-loving self. Up until now, this has been shrouded in mystery, which is emphasized when characters recite ominous lines like “Where the facts end and the legend begins, no really knows for sure…”
Kahuna was raised in Germany (and yet has no trace of an accent) where his father created some sort of magical, fountain-of-youth potion intended for soldiers. This formula is said to be “all-natural” and yet it is neon green and GLOWS. One night, baby Kahuna crawls into the lab, where he comes upon a shadowy figure about to ingest said potion. Startled, this mystery man drops the vial. Some of the liquid ends up in Kahuna’s mouth. As a result he becomes “the Peter Pan of babies,” doomed to wander the Earth forever in a toddler’s body. Dad dies, and Kahuna’s bitter older brother dumps Kahuna in an orphanage, even though he’s about 30 by this point. K escapes and vows to help orphans everywhere. Aww…tear. (His deep love of holograms is never explained.)
The next day, Kahuna and Zach drive the babies and Kylie back to the daycare center. Evil Jon Voight is in the middle of his live television network launch, which again, is inexplicably happening outside of a daycare center. Kahuna hops in some sort of go-cart/helicopter and attempts to fly over to where Evil Jon Voight is about to activate the mind control disc that he will broadcast on his new network to, um, control minds. Somehow, EJV manages to zap Kahuna with some sort of electric beam and Kahuna disappears. Btw, didn’t we already do the mind-control-of-children thing in Halloween 3, the lame one without Michael Myers? (Another Halloween reference? Bet you didn’t see THAT one coming.)
Kahuna is taken to Evil Jon Voight’s cave of evil. He appears to the babies in hologram form, despite being away from his fancy hologram equipment, and tells them he needs their help. But he really doesn’t, because he manages to escape from Evil Jon Voight and his henchmen on his own, thank you very much.
The babies take Scott Baio and his forgettable wife to Kahuna’s lair. They are appropriately awestruck. Yet they do not question how someone who appears to be 5-7 years old, with no discernable source of income, can afford such luxurious surroundings. But why quibble over small details? Kahuna appears shortly afterwards, followed by EJV and crew. The babies assume their superhero identities, which they now realize that are worthy of, thanks to Kahuna’s guidance and wisdom. The babies and henchman rumble, but EJV manages to take his mind control disc up to Kahuna’s computer/hologram device/teleporter and begin the upload of his mind control message. Kahuna and babies overpower EJV but it appears to be too late! However, Kahuna manages to do something I really didn’t understand and change the message to one that directs children to turn off the television and get their fat asses outside. Yay, crisis averted.
It is then revealed that – get ready for it – Evil Jon Voight is actually Kahuna’s cruel older brother! OMG SHOCKER. EJV stumbles into Kahuna’s “imagination machine” and comes out a baby. OH CRUEL IRONY. One of the babies exclaims, “This has got to be the most amazing day in history!”. Really? You might want to wait until you actually know what history is before making such a bold statement. I was so sick of these babies at this point.
Everyone bids goodbye to Kahuna who disappears off into the ether. Everyone heads back to the daycare center and They All Live Happily Ever After. Fin.
In summary, this movie is nonsensical, ridiculous, poorly-written, and poorly-acted. Even the tagline, “The Dirty Dozen…Time For A Change”, makes no sense because there are only FOUR babies. However, this is intended for children, so I don’t find it as offensive as movies that think they are good movies, but are actually crap. It helped that I spent most of the movie intent on figuring out why Evil Jon Voight’s main henchman looked so familiar. (According to IMDB he was on 24 last season but I still can’t place him.) I didn’t expect to like it, and, as a result, I was surprisingly ok with sacrificing 1.5 hours of my life to the cause. As Evil Jon Voight says in one of his rare moments of sanity, “A little candy cane for my taste, but then, I’m an adult.”