I've never written a review for a movie I haven't watched all
the way through, but I had to make an exception with POWDER. I
was about forty-five minutes into this one at a friend's house when
he and his brother got into a huge shouting match that would have
ended in violence had we not left the house. So I never got to finish
the movie and I'm sure as hell not going to pay three more bucks to
watch half of a bad movie. But I can at least get a partial review out
of it, because I saw enough to know this one wasn't worth finishing
in the first place.
The movie centers around a freaky teenager who's spent
his entire life living in the cellar of his grandparents' house. When
Grandpa dies (taking his department store down with him), social
worker Mary Steenburgen has to take Powder (first and middle
names? Gold Bond) to a state home, where we find out he's a
different from the other kids. Actually, we find out he's different
when we first see him, because he's the most pale individual
we've ever seen and moreover he has no body hair whatsoever.
When Powder is born in the opening minutes of the movie, the
father takes one look at him and says "He's not my son."
Obviously. All I want to know is where the Pillsbury Dough
Boy was nine months ago.
So the white-faced freak leaves his Neverland Ranch for
the state home and faces the ridicule of other kids. That is, until
they try to haze him during his first cafeteria lunch by making him
"wear" his spoon ("You can either wear it on your nose or up your
ass." Decisions, decisions...) and he uses telepathic powers to draw
all the silverware in the room into a giant pile in the middle of the
table. So if his father is the Pillsbury Dough Boy, his mother must
be Sissy Spacek's Carrie character.
And you have to factor in two more things from the
subsequent scenes, as we find out Powder has some sort of
super-intelligence ("Your I.Q. test went straight off the chart!")
and attracts electrical power. This first shows up as Powder visits
the world of high school (If he's such a genius already, why would
he need a high school education?) and sits through a demonstration
in Jeff Goldblum's science class. Goldblum plugs in a "Jacob's
ladder" device that shows current running up two wires and
immediately the current flows across the room and into Powder's
chest. But Goldblum just stands there for about thirty seconds
watching, instead of just unplugging the damn thing. I guess he
was too busy contemplating why he was appearing in his third
bad movie in a row (following HIDEAWAY and NINE MONTHS).
That's about all I saw before the big fight began and, let
me tell you, that was twice as interesting as the movie itself. But
like I said, I saw enough to know this would be one of those terrible
melodramas about the isolation of people who have superior abilities
and how hard it is for those people to assimilate themselves into
mainstream civilization. None of these movies ever handle the
subject properly, instead introducing the feeble BEAUTY AND
THE BEAST copout of having a beautiful woman fall in love with
the guy's personality, overlooking his personal appearance. I already
had the female character picked out (the girl who was sitting next to
him in the back of the room during the electrocution scene), but I
guess I'll never know for sure what happened.
Copyright © 1996 Andrew Hicks