Phenomenon (1996)

Genres - Drama, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama, Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Jul 5, 1996 (USA)  |   Run Time - 150 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Phenomenon oozes more syrup than a Vermont maple tree stabbed a hundred times. Everything about this falsely inspirational movie proceeds along a prefabricated path toward an inevitable, saccharine conclusion. Jon Turteltaub's film is a master manipulator, having made over 100 million dollars at the domestic box office on the strength of John Travolta's name recognition and a screenplay that's potent to a certain segment of the viewing public. The ingredients for popular success are all in evidence: an aw-shucks small town, a likeable protagonist, and a wondrous supernatural occurrence with a tinge of heartland religious flavor to it. Admittedly, it's interesting to contemplate the possibilities of being struck by instant brilliance, and to see how an ordinary man might cope with it. But it's such a predictable point A to point B to point C script that any tears jerked by the end should have been anticipated during the opening credits. Coupled with Michael, it looked like Travolta was going to make gooey star vehicles a career focus, but he wisely abandoned the trend in favor of thrillers and unsentimental dramas.