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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Now You See Him, Now You Don't

**** Now You See Him, Now You Don't. Comedy.

Directed by: Robert Butler.
Starring: Kurt Russell, Cesar Romero, Joe Flynn, Michael McGreevy, Ed Begley, Jr.

No trailer, or even clips for this one on YouTube, sad to say. You'll just have to take my word for it that this is a fun, fun movie.

Carl's in Geneva for the week, so Camden and I continued our tradition of watching something we normally wouldn't watch. We got this from Netflix.

I'd first seen this back when it first came out, in 1972, and loved it. Of course, I was only 11 then, so what did I know? Quite a bit, apparently. At least in this case.

Now You See Him, Now You Don't is the second movie starring Kurt Russell is Dexter Reilly (the spelling of whose name changes on the IMDB across the three movies in the series), a student at Medford College. The first was The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. (click to read my review)

In this one, he's working on an invisibility project in the science lab, and with the help of a lightning storm, it works. As in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Medford College's mortgage is due--$50,000--and "businessman" A. J. Arno (Cesar Romero) has plans to turn the situation to his own profit, this time by foreclosing and turning the college campus into a gambling mecca. Their only hope is the Forsythe Science Award, which just happens to be $50,000.

Dean Higgins (Joe Flynn) has his hopes set on Druffle's (Ed Begley, Jr.) bee experiments, but Druffle turns out to be allergic to bees and out of commission. Dexter Reilly swears his research is a shoe-in to win, but Dexter's a bit of a trouble maker and Dean Higgins really doesn't trust him.

There are lots of hijinks, though not nearly as many as you might expect, given the possibilities inherent in the subject of invisibility. The golf game when Dean Higgins has to impress Forsythe enough on the course to get Forsythe to allow tiny Medford College to enter the science contest is a definite highlight. And when the crooks get hold of the formula and use it to rob a bank, the resulting car chase--with the crooks and their car invisible--is a riot.

Since this was made in 1972, and furthermore, was originally made for TV, the special effects are not particularly impressive. But that doesn't seem to matter. While Now You See Him, Now You Don't is just as unrealistic as its predecessor, it doesn't suffer from the same degree of ridiculousness. That is, if there could be a liquid that would turn things invisible by spraying them, and that could simply be rinsed off with water, then the rest of the movie makes sense.

Camden was originally very resistant to the idea of watching an oldie. But even he enjoyed it, and I laughed aloud several times. Part of that was due, no doubt, to being really tired, but it was genuinely funny. I've noticed that the humor in movies of that era is less... frantic, maybe, than similar comedies today, and that's true for this movie as well.

It's always risky to revisit something you loved as a child--if it's not as good as you remember, then not only have you had a less-than-entertaining time, but you've spoiled those good memories. That didn't happen this time.

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