Jack

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Jack
Jack.jpg
This film is more of a quack than Jack.
Starring: Robin Williams
Diane Lane
Jennifer Lopez
Brian Kerwin
Fran Drescher
Bill Cosby
Photography: Color
Release Date: August 9, 1996
Runtime: 113 minutes
Country: United States


Jack is a 1996 American comedy-drama film starring Robin Williams and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The film co-stars Diane Lane, Jennifer Lopez, Fran Drescher, Bill Cosby, and Brian Kerwin. Williams plays the role of Jack Powell, a boy who ages four times faster than normal as a result of Werner syndrome, a form of progeria.

Plot

The film begins as Karen Powell (Diane Lane) goes into labor during a Halloween party and is rushed to the hospital by her husband, Brian (Brian Kerwin), and their friends. Although the delivery is successful, the baby is extremely premature, born after only ten weeks of pregnancy. Strangely, the infant seems to be a normal, healthy, full-term baby. After examinations and tests, the infant, now named Jack, is found to have an exaggerated form of Werner syndrome. Dr. Benfante (Allan Rich) and Dr. Lin (Keone Young) diagnose a very rare autosomal recessive disorder. Their prognosis is that Jack will develop and age at a rate four times as fast as an average child, rendering him "sick as frick" as Dr. Lin explains colloquially.

Jack (Robin Williams) is next seen ten years later as a ten-year-old boy in the body of a forty-year-old man. Four boys lurk outside his house, swapping rumors of a "monstrosity" of a boy their age who can't go to school. He scares them away by dipping a fake eye into slime and throwing it at them from his window. He is extremely childish due to his secluded life. He has only socialized with his parents and his tutor, Lawrence Woodruff (Bill Cosby), who introduces the idea that he should go to public school. His parents initially balk, for fear Jack could be emotionally hurt.

When he first attends school, he is exploited by the other kids to win at basketball against bullies, and eventually to get adult magazines and other such items. As time goes by, he is accepted by them, beginning with Louis, as they discover that they like him. He attempts to be normal there, for example, when he deals with his first crush, heartbreak, and the relationship with his teacher, Miss Marquez (Jennifer Lopez). When he goes through a fall while attempting to leave, he is rushed to the hospital, where his doctor explains that he suffered a shocking severe strain (which could've been a rare form of angina), and also, because of his Werner syndrome, his internal clock is starting to run out. Realizing the dangers it might entail for his health, his parents decide to withdraw him from school, which upsets him.

He sneaks out of the house and goes to a bar, where he gets drunk and befriends a man named Paulie (Michael McKean), and tries to hit on Dolores (Fran Drescher), Louis's mother. However, he then gets into a fight with a bully (Edward Lynch) and both are arrested. Dolores bails Jack out, leaving the other guy to suffer in jail. Upon returning home, he locks himself in his room and doesn't go out for weeks. Karen speculates that perhaps he realized the fragility of his life and is now scared of facing the outside world again. He also doubts the need to study as he realizes that he wouldn't have the time to use any of the knowledge.

Meanwhile, his friends continue coming to his house, hoping that he will come out and play, but he refuses. Finally, Louis has an idea: he brings the entire class over as they take turns yelling "Can Jack come out and play?" and participate in various games and fun activities right in front of the yard. The next day he decides to go back to school.

Seven years later, an elderly-looking Jack and his four best friends are at their high school graduation. He delivers the valedictory speech, in which he reminds his classmates that life is short, and urges them to "make your life spectacular," as the five of them drive off into the future.

Bad Qualities

  1. The film tries to be a representation of Werner syndrome, but it barely ever plays a major role. The film is mostly about Jack's struggles to fit in.
  2. As good as Robin Williams' performance is, Jack himself is absolutely annoying. Also, he is portrayed more as a little kid rather than a 'ten year old'.
  3. The comedy is rather juvenile; there's an entire minute dedicated to Jack farting in a can.
  4. The entire section from Jack running away to coming back and locking himself in his room could easily be cut out and the movie would not at all change.
  5. The makeup on Jack at the end, in which he has the appearance of an old man, looks like a Halloween costume rather than convincing makeup.
  6. It's rather strange that the director is Francis Ford Coppola of all people, since the directing is surprisingly bad.
  7. There is one scene where Jack's mother reminisces on Jack's life while blowing bubbles, which only serves as a forced whimsical scene.
  8. The dialogue is really off-putting, especially when one of the kids asks Jack if he ever had an erection.
  9. Jack's romantic subplot between him and his teacher goes nowhere. To prove this point, he asks her out to a school dance, but this school dance never happens in the movie.
  10. There's a really strange scene where Jack's father is shooting a carrot advert, but it looks more like a pornography photo shoot.

Good Qualities

  1. The acting is pretty solid, particularly from Robin Williams, whose goofy energy perfectly captures the age of the character.
  2. At times, the photography will speed up to represent how Jack's time is moving faster than normal, which is pretty clever.
  3. The film can get a decent laugh once in a while.
  4. The moral is alright, as it encourages the viewers to make their life spectacular and not letting a disability get in the way.