Friday 31 August 2012

The Strongest Man In The World (1975)

The third, and last, of the Disney "Dexter Riley" movies sees a lot of the same names returning to make another romp that may not be quite as good as the previous two movies but still remains relatively entertaining from start to finish.

Kurt Russell returns as Dexter, Joe Flynn is the Dean once more, Michael McGreevey is Schuyler again and the great Cesar Romero is back to play A. J. Arno. Dexter once again finds himself accidentally benefiting from a happy mistake in the science lab - this time it makes him incredibly strong. So strong that he accidentally breaks his shoe-laces, pulls off door-handles and bends lampposts and such. This amazing discovery leads to one obvious decision being made, the dean approaches a popular breakfast cereal company and agrees to represent them at a televised weight-lifting competition against their main rival.

Vincent McEveety is the director this time around, working from a script by his brother, Joseph L. McEveety, and he keeps things moving along nicely. It's just a shame that the film doesn't have as many enjoyable moments as any of its predecessors. In fact, the group of kids feel as if they're just on the sidelines for most of the time with the focus moving to Joe Flynn having fun as the dean, Phil Silvers as the head of the rival breakfast cereal company and Michael McGreevey being at risk because everyone thinks that he has the details of the formula in his head. Oh, and there is some time spent with A. J. Arno and Cookie (Richard Bakalyan, also returning). But there's very little time actually spent with Dexter, and even less time spent with Dexter AND the gang.

The performances are all well and good, completely in line with the other films featuring these characters, and things never come to a grinding halt but it's not all that exciting either, even when it gets to the big finale of the weight-lifting competition. Perhaps that's due to the knowledge of what happened in the other two movies, perhaps it's due to the knowledge that this is a Disney family movie. Whatever the reason, things wind towards the ending with little sense of excitement and fun. The whole premise feels as if it hasn't been used to its full potential.

Yet don't let the negatives stop you from giving this a watch if it's on the TV and the weather outside is dreadful. There is enough here to make it worth a watch and you almost owe it to yourself to "complete the set" if you've seen any of the other Dexter Riley movies. It's an inoffensive, okay movie. Nothing more and nothing less.


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