on August 09, 1996 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
   One of the odder releases of the year, "Jack" marries the childlike sensibility of pre-"Schindler's List" Steven Spielberg to the traditional, heavier adult concerns of Francis Ford Coppola. The result, not surprisingly, is inconsistent and uninvolving. It does help that Robin Williams plays Jack, a boy who because of a strange genetic condition ages at four times the normal human rate, resulting in a 10-year-old who is hairy and shaves. In short, Jack doesn't look like your average kid, a fact exacerbated when his kindly private tutor (a vintage Bill Cosby performance) suggests that it might be time for Jack to enter the real world and interact with others his "age."
   Williams proves adept at suggesting a young mind in an adult body, but "Jack," unlike Penny Marshall's similarly themed "Big," doesn't have any edges. Williams' Jack is less a character than a symbol of childhood innocence--and a pretty dull one at that. His idyllic persona does fit the story, which offers a never-never land populated by uniformly nice youngsters, clean streets and a pristine school--a world that doesn't exist outside a Hollywood movie. Even the logical family tensions that should exist between Jack's parents (Brian Kerwin and Diane Lane)--who are after all dealing with quite an unusual situation--remain virtually invisible.
   But then "Jack" suddenly veers in a genuinely gritty and disturbing direction. The man/boy's sojourn in a singles club and his encounter with a classmate's sexually rapacious mother (Fran Drescher of TV's "The Nanny") doesn't belong in the children's movie that "Jack" had been to this point. The segment, however, is preferable to the film's uplifting conclusion, which simultaneously invokes Jack's mortality while putting a positive spin on his progeria. In the abundant field of feel-good entertainment, "Jack" is one of the weaker entries. Starring Robin Williams, Diane Lane and Bill Cosby. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Written by James DeMonaco and Gary Nadeau. Produced by Ricardo Mestres, Fred Fuchs and Francis Ford Coppola. A Buena Vista release. Comedy/drama. Rated PG-13 for some sexual references. Running time: 111 min
Tags: Starring Robin Williams, Diane Lane and Bill Cosby, Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Written by James DeMonaco and Gary Nadeau. Produced by Ricardo Mestres, Fred Fuchs, Francis Ford Coppola, Buena Vista, Comedy, drama

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