Zeus And Roxanne

on January 24, 1997 by Dale Winogura
Harmless kiddie fodder at best, this Rysher production (the company behind "House Arrest") is so full of cutesy acting, cutesy comedy and cutesy animal tricks that it's perfectly innocuous. But the hokey contrivances and lack of imagination in the script by Tom Benedek ("Free Willy") are compounded by the shoddy technique and insipid sensibility of George T. Miller's ("Andre") direction.
   The title characters, a dog named Zeus and a dolphin named Roxanne, are given relatively little to do in this dull, predictable combination of story elements cribbed from "The Parent Trap" and "The Incredible Journey." A marine biologist and single mom (Kathleen Quinlan) studies the dolphin's behavior as research toward a university grant. Meanwhile, her two girls (Majandra Delfino and Jessica Howell) try to set her up with a scruffy song composer and widower (Steve Guttenberg), whose pet dog has struck up a friendship with the dolphin. A jealous rival suitor ("Hard Target's" Arnold Vosloo) for her affections and the grant attempts to capture the dolphin by using the dog as bait.
   Because the characters are such pat and bland stereotypes, and Miller's style is bereft of pace and conviction, it's like a bad half--hour TV show stretched to more than 90 minutes. When Guttenberg moves away and his dog runs back to try to find his dolphin pal, there's nothing convincing in the plotting or execution to make the film tug at the heart. The later suspense, when Quinlan is trapped in a submersible underwater and the dolphin rushes to help, develops some dramatic urgency, but it's not enough to save the movie.
   Charm and wonder are sadly missing here, so all that remains is a waterlogged adventure that would bore most families, who'd choose instead to add to the incessant chatter in the theatre. Even the two onscreen youngsters are so unlovably obnoxious that it could make W.C. Fields rise from his grave to kick their pants. Starring Steve Guttenberg, Kathleen Quinlan and Arnold Vosloo. Directed by George T. Miller. Written by Tom Benedek. Produced by Frank Price, Gene Rosow and Ludi Hoeken. An MGM release. Adventure. Rated PG for mild thematic elements. Running time: 98 min.
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