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Jack

Starring Robin Williams, Diane Lane, Brian Kerwin, Jennifer Lopez, and Bill Cosby
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Jack is the story of a boy saddled with an unknown illness that forces his body to grow at four times the normal rate. Director Francis Ford Coppola forces us into fantasy mode as the film begins with the birth, as a full grown baby, after a gestation of ten weeks. I'll write it again, ten (10) weeks. Yes, it's a bit much to swallow, but go with it, folks. It all gets better real soon.

We next see super-baby at age ten, when Robin Williams steps into the picture in his 40-something-year-old body. Struggling with shaving (which he would have been doing since age four), coloring his gray hair black with shoe polish, and staring out the window as the normal world outside passes him by.

I don't know if there is another actor who could pull off this kind of character as well as Robin Williams. Williams always has had the energy of a child packed into his adult body. Now he delivers the temperament as well. It is a bravura performance. Jack's dad (Brian Kerwin) is sympathetic, but out of the picture for the most part. His mom (Diane Lane) is overprotective, and both keep him away from the mainstream by employing a tutor, played by Bill Cosby. Jack sees the other kids; they see him as a giant or a freak, because they have no knowledge of what is hidden in the house.

It is only when teacher Cosby convinces the parents to let Jack out that the film genuinely begins. Jack goes through all the ostracism, and later acceptance, that always confronts the "new kid." But having a 40-year-old sized body comes in very handy for things like basketball and buying dirty magazines -- yes, everything is in the trailer. What I won't give away is the kidlet group initiation. Sure, some of the humor is of the gross-out kind (personally, I was a frog guy, not a worm man; you'll understand if you see it) but given the context of the film, it all makes sense.

I have always said that the mark of a great comedian is the ability to do drama. In Jack we get to see two of the best, Bill Cosby and Robin Williams. Here's the problem: Jack plays out, in the scenes between Cosby and Williams, as if director Coppola was waiting for some kind of improvisational magic to happen. It doesn't.

Given the implausibility of the story, Williams builds and makes real this medical outcast of a young boy. Nothing else in the movie comes close.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Jack, he would have paid . . .

$6.00

Jack is sweet and tender and touching and, yes, it made Cranky sniffle. That doesn't happen often.

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