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IN SHORT: A laughable thriller. [Rated PG-13 for violence including frightening images, a scene of sexuality and some thematic material. 100 minutes]
We can't get more descriptive -- our audience was laughing hysterically.
Godsend is the story of biology teacher Paul Duncan (Greg Kinnear) and his lovely wife Jessie (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos). Their 8 year old son Adam (Cameron Bright) is killed when he chases his basketball out into a city street and is hit by a car. As they finalize funeral arrangements at the local Catholic church (yea for Catholics! RC churches look great on film thanks to all that stained glass...) they are approached by . . .
. . . could it be . . . SATAN!!!???
No! It's Richard Wells (Robert De Niro), a research biologist who has a more than tempting offer to make ... the generation of a clone from the cells of their deceased boy. Wells' process must occur within a day of death, so Paul and Jesse have mere hours to make the most important decision of their lives. Blink and you'll miss the bit about Wells knowing that Jessie can't have any more children -- who needs a reason that would get in the way of the plot? De Niro is too good an actor to emphasize that line, even as his character moves on to emphasize that (he) can arrange for relocation and new identities for the couple -- this action is extremely illegal, so they'll have to give up their friends, family and livelihood to make it happen. Wells provides a new and fully furnished house in the lovely town of Godsend and our happy loving couple takes the biggest chance of their young lives. The cloning works and, creepy as it sounds, they name their new son Adam (and he's still played by Cameron Bright).
OK, ignore the obvious problem that no one in their mind, right or otherwise, would buy into this premise. The ads promise that "Evil will be born" and all of us who knowwhat a great horror flick should be already know that the set up doesn't need to make sense to set up horror. So . . . the problem is that, once Adam version 2 gets older than his predecessor was at said predecessor's demise, version 2 begins to have awful nightmares of killing and arson and all sorts of nasty things. Bad things begin to happen. Kinda like Damien without any omens.
Daddy has to search out the origins of mister sorta doctor Wells' research to discover the horrible reason why awful things torment his life . . . and . . .
Oh, we have little strength for this. The script is so utterly lacking of sense that we couldn't begin to offer up any kind of explanation as to why this perfect copy should go so hideously wrong. We've seen Greg Kinnear save many awful scripts before but even his prowess can't salvage this laugher. Director Nick Hamm goes to the well too many times -- the ol' stinger of music a la Bernard Herrmann's work for Hitchcock wears out after about half a dozen times -- and nothing can make Mark Bomback's script scary as long as it is incomprehensible to anyone with more than a single digit IQ.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Godsend, he would have paid . . .
Worst of the year, so far.
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