Jacob Two Two Meets the Hooded Fang (1999)

Genres - Children's/Family, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Children's Fantasy, Family-Oriented Adventure  |   Release Date - Mar 1, 1979 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - Canada , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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There's an effort here to be amusingly threatening in the manner of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but there's too much gothic Annie-in-the-orphanage tension to be the breezy yet significant children's movie its makers intended. Still, for tweeners -- those between ten and 15 (perhaps the most underserviced demographic in all of filmed entertainment) -- Jacob Two Two Meets the Hooded Fang isn't bad, and it could be a lot worse. The cast has something to do with what success there is. Gary Busey, of all people, camps it up as the disguised titular villain that young Jacob (adorable but limited Max Morrow) must defeat in order to get himself and dozens of other imprisoned children off the creepy Slimer's Island. Miranda Richardson and Mark McKinney play Miss Fowl and Mr. Fish with clever costume appliances -- hers a beak, his gills and a fin in the back of his head -- with just the right note of playful menace. Ice-T, perhaps the last performer one might expect in a family film, plays his sequence as the rapping judge as though he's in a music video, which is not all bad in this context. The movie sports enough teen-fantasy references -- motorized skateboarding and a Power Rangers knock-off among them -- to make young viewers hurry their homework so they can tune in. But just once -- this film doesn't have the addictive juvenile charm required to make it a perennial hit or to make Jacob Two Two a household word.