THE COMPUTER WORE TENNIS SHOES
Review by Michael Jacobson
Kurt Russell, Cesar Romero, Joe Flynn
Director: Robert Butler
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Walt Disney
Length: 90 Minutes
Release Date: January 14, 2003
computer is a luxury this college simply cannot afford!”
always had a soft spot in my heart for Disney’s trio of films about college
student Dexter Riley (a very young Russell).
The first one, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, came out the year I
was born, and I must have seen it at least a half a dozen times while growing up
on The Wonderful World of Disney. For
a young mind, it was a zany comedy that fired the imagination…what student
wouldn’t want to be in Dexter’s tennis shoes and suddenly have the brain of
back with adult eyes…well, some things are better colored by nostalgia.
It’s still a harmless family film with a few interesting ideas and a
laugh here or there, but overall, it’s easy to see why this movie didn’t
take it’s place alongside more timeless Disney live action classics like The
Parent Trap or Old Yeller. It
was essentially a one-joke premise locked in a rather uninspired script with
three decent lead characters surrounded by dead weight.
is a college sophomore who, along with most of his friends and Medfield, are
about to be placed on academic probation by the uptight Dean Higgins (the always
amusing Flynn). The school is
having problems…when one of the professors asks for a computer, Higgins
retorts with the above quoted line, which is worth a barrel of laughs in the
in mind that in 1969, a computer took up an entire room and performed only basic
calculations. But Dexter and
friends manage to acquire one from a local rich patron, A. J. Arno (the
gleefully diabolic Romero). The
problem? Hidden in that computer is
a lot of information about Arno’s illegal business activities…and when an
electrical accident drains the entire contents of the computer into Dexter’s
brain, he not only becomes the smartest man alive, but a walking talking threat
to Arno, who’s willing to do ANYTHING to save his hide!
film follows a mostly predictable plot, which involves A) Dexter becoming a
college quiz champion and getting the chance to help his school by winning a big
cash prize, and B) the attempts of Arno and his henchmen to get rid of Dexter!
They almost succeed, but thanks to the help of his pals (what were their
names again?) and a pretty exciting and comical car chase that leaves A. J.’s
face red (literally), Dexter still has a chance to save the day…as long as his
newfound mental powers don’t wear off first!
movie just doesn’t stand the test of its audience growing up, I suppose.
As I mentioned, I loved it as a kid, but as a grown-up, it was just too
goofy and uninspiring. Whether or not today’s kids would get into it I can’t
guess, but given how dated the picture looks now, I wouldn’t bet on it.
I’m just as dated at this film is. I
hope that only means I’ve aged better than it did.
the real Disney please stand up? Is
this the same studio that wowed DVD lovers with their excellent releases of Beauty
and the Beast, Snow White, The Parent Trap and others?
Why do they continue to be the only studio to withhold widescreen
transfers on a whim? This film,
despite looking it’s age with print marks, occasional flicker and colors that
range from good to medium quality, is presented in cropped format.
The problems are obvious right from the start…you can always tell the
image is misframed and that people and/or objects are being sliced off on the
left and right. What a complete
cheat…had I know Disney had stooped so low with this title, I would have
avoided it altogether. We’ll have
to remind ourselves how bad this studio can be whenever we think of them as
being new and improved, and make sure we know what we’re spending our money
on. Caveat emptor.
mono offering, but with a little zing coming from the big car chase climax.
Dialogue sounds clean and clear throughout, and I noticed no noise or
other distractions. That title
song, though, has got to be one of the studio’s worst.