Title: Jack Brown Genius

Also known as:

Year: 1996

Genre: Comedy / Sci-fi / Fantasy

Language: English

Runtime: 90 min

Director: Tony Hiles

Writer: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh & Tony Hiles

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0138529/

Thousand years after a monk fails his attempt at flying, his spirit returns to hassle Jack Brown, an inventor, into building the machine. If he doesn't succeed within a few days, the monk's spirit might be doomed to hell for all eternity, as his death would be seen as a suicide. With the voice constantly in his head, inventing becomes a struggle and he's soon thought of as a crazy man.

Our thoughts:
I've been curious about "Jack Brown Genius" as I am a fan of most pre-"Lord of the Rings" movies by Peter Jackson, but since this was "merely" executive produced and co-written by him it was never a top priority. Luckily Studio S Entertainment here in Sweden decided to put it out on DVD, which made it possible for me to finally check it out!

Going back to simpler times - yes, about a thousand years ago. A monk, Elmer, tries to invent something so that he can fly, but unfortunately kills himself in the process. Within the next thousand years he has to get the invention made to prove it wasn't a suicide, or else his soul will spend the rest of eternity in hell. In the present day, the goofy loser/inventor Jack Brown is about to earn the company he works for millions of dollars for an invention, but he's interrupted by the sight of a flaming ball that is absorbed by his eye. That flaming ball is Elmer, and he has set camp in Jack's head to force him into inventing working wings.

"Jack Brown Genius" is the bastard child of a one-nighter between "Back to the Future" and "Howard the Duck". Sadly that's pretty much how good the movie is, too. It has a fun premise and very likable lead (played by Timothy Balme), but it gets boring and very cheesy at times. It doesn't hold up and feels like a dozen other late '80s/early '90s movies. It's not a bad time waster for a sunday, of course.

Most of the comedy comes from Timothy Balme. He made it clear in "Braindead" that he has acting chops and comedic timing, and that's just confirmed with "Jack Brown Genius". He doesn't manage to make a semi-funny script great, however. That's also because of the directing, of course. I think it could have been fine-tuned plenty more, and certainly it could have been more original than the bad guys trying to get the invention. It's too late.

The effects are decent, but so much greenscreen that adds to the cheesiness of it. When the movie has as much flying and jumping high as this does, it's unfortunate that those effects are the worse. Sure, it was made 18 years ago, so watching it now hurts it a lot more. I wish I would have watched it growing up, when I was less experienced, less picky, and less grumpy. Some of the other effects are solid though.

If you love inventor/adventure comedies like "Back to the Future", or just want to watch anything Peter Jackson has been involved in, then check "Jack Brown Genius"! It has a similar vibe to some of Peter Jackson's movies, but it lacks the great reinvention of genres, and doesn't treat us with good enough jokes. It might be late to watch it now, I think it might have been for me, but it did invoke a certain feel of nostalghia simply by being a familiar style from a familiar era. It's not terrible, but ultimately I am disappointed that I felt bored half-way through. Very happy that I got to watch it finally, however.

Positive things:
- Timothy Balme.
- It's a decent time waster with enough entertainment values.

Negative things:
- Lacks fresh ideas.
- Gets tedious around the middle.
- Not funny enough.
- Typical bad guys.

Gore: 0.5/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 2/5
Effects: 2.5/5
Comedy: 2.5/5

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