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The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
(PG, 90 min.)
Village Square




Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London
(PG-13, 93 min.)
Wide release


Thursday, March 11, 2004
Copyright © Las Vegas Mercury

Film: Perfectly bad

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

The trailer for The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, a lo-budget, lo-fi and lo-style 2001 homage to '50s creature features, suggested it wasn't fit for "Mystery Science Theatre 3000," much less theatrical release. But, surprisingly, Larry Blamire's directorial-writing-acting debut has value beyond mere kitsch. Ed Wood fans, the line forms here.

Advertised as being filmed in "skeletorama"--and preceded by an animated short by legendary cartoonist U.B. Iwerks--Blamire's spoof is 100 percent shlock throwback. But while Blamire pokes fun at the eye-rolling awfulness of such institutions as Plan 9 from Outer Space and It Conquered the World, it also honors them with its dry wit and obvious absurdity. (Though things get self-conscious when alien Kro-bar, played by Andrew Parks, says, "I like the way you put things--mysterious and yet perfectly understandable.")

Additionally, the innuendo does exactly what it's supposed to--reduce you to adolescent giggle fits. When Dr. Paul Armstrong (Blamire) gets randy with his wife, Betty (Fay Masterson), he earnestly says, "Why shake [hands], when we can touch other things--like lips!" And we haven't even delved into the sexual pathos of Animala, played by frequent scene-stealer Jennifer Blaire.

Amid all this riotous parody is a story. Paul and Betty are looking for a meteor containing the life force--atmospherium--that threatens to resurrect the lost skeleton of Cadavra. Kro-bar and his partner, Lattis (Susan McConnell), who refers to dresses as "soft cloth funnels," are also on the hunt for the potent substance, as well as their lost (and very hungry) mutant. Paths cross and chaos ensues. There's more to the narrative, but why ruin a perfectly bad plot to a perfectly bad movie?--Mike Prevatt

Baby Bond

Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London finds Frankie Muniz reprising his role as an undercover CIA agent. His mission takes him to a high-toned London boarding school where he tracks down the bad guys who have an implant device that can control people's actions.

Harald Zwart's 2003 original was 007 for grade schoolers, and director Kevin Allen and screenwriter Don Rhymer understand the genre's appeal. There are lots of gadgets and chases and kids outsmarting adults. The agents' efforts to disguise their training ground as a children's camp is sometimes hilarious. A food fight that comes out of nowhere to the accompaniment of "The Blue Danube" is strangely lyrical. And a royal dinner with the queen culminates--for reasons too convoluted to explain here--with a Swiss boy, in heavy German accent, leading guests in a hysterical chorus of "Var! Vas iz it goot vor? Absolutely nutting!"

The problem is that the few clever moments make the many bad ones stand out. The film is short on plot logic and turns routine just when it badly needs to soar. But look, if your kids are begging you to take them, you may be surprised at how not torturous the experience will be.--Anthony Del Valle


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