Plot: Katie Coltrane (Whoopi Goldberg) is the toughest officer on the police force, but her attitude often lands her in trouble and she doesn’t work well with others. Her new partner for the case is a surprise choice, as she is teamed up with a genetically generated dinosaur named Teddy Rex (voiced by George Newbern). So what is this vital case, the one that is so important, these two unlikely partners have been thrust together? An evil man named Elizar Kane (Armin Mueller-Stahl) has plans to take over the world, which means action has to be taken. He seeks to create his own version of Noah’s Ark, in which his chosen specimens would survive, at the expense of all the other living creatures in the world. His plot is put in jeopardy however, as two dinosaurs manage to escape and alert the authorities to his intentions. Now Coltrane has been called in to uncover the truth about Kane’s plans, as well as serve justice if the law has indeed been broken. But Kane is a slippery, smart man and as such, she’ll need all the help she can muster. Her sole help is her new partner Rex, who is desperate to prove that dinosaurs should be given equal treatment. Can these two manage to work together long enough to solve the case or will Teddy be the first and last dinosaur detective?
Entertainment Value: I would love to know all the production stories involved in this one, as Theodore Rex is surrounded by rumors and wild claims, which makes sense, given how its such an odd picture. The film’s reputation begs the question, is Theodore Rex as bad as people claim? To me, the answer is no, as I’ve seen much worse movies and at least this one has b movie appeal, as it is an offbeat and often ridiculous ride. I’ve seen movies that are painful to watch, with glacial pacing and total disinterest from those involved, so while Theodore Rex is no classic, at least it has some enthusiastic and again, those b movie vibes to lean on. I also think the family friendly slant signals this was aimed at younger audiences, so while it is beyond cheesy, so are a lot of the movies thrown into this market. Of course, if you want a serious, refined look at dinosaurs as detectives or want the social context more deeply explored, then you’ll be disappointed with this goofy comedy. But if you appreciate outlandish, head scratching cinematic curios, Theodore Rex warrants a look.
If the rumors are true, Whoopi Goldberg tried to get out of this movie numerous times and only appeared after a legal battle an additional two million dollars, so clearly she didn’t believe in the magic of Theodore Rex. She wasn’t the only one, as she has also said almost the entire crew walked out on the production at some point, so again, I would love to hear the behind the scenes on this one. Her performance is by no means good, but she at least tries a little, so despite the obvious distaste for the project, she puts some energy into the role. The part doesn’t ask her to do much outside her usual routine, but under the circumstances, I think she does well. No matter how you feel about the movie, the supporting cast is colorful and impressive, including Richard Roundtree in a dialed up, humorous performance. He seems to embrace the goofiness and is fun to watch here, going over the top in almost all of his scenes. Others on deck here include Carol Kane, Bud Cort, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Juliet Landau, and Joe Dallesandro, so an interesting ensemble was assembled here, if nothing else.
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