The Meteor Man
Directed by Robert Townsend. Starring Robert Townsend, Robert Guillaume, Marla Gibbs, Eddie Griggin, Sinbad, Bill Cosby. (1993)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Aug. 13, 1993
Aaaiiieee! What the hell was Townsend thinking? From the director of the brilliant Hollywood Shuffle and the not quite perfect Five Heartbeats comes this steadfastly mediocre tale of a jazz musician-cum-substitute teacher (Townsend) who transforms into the titular superhero after being struck by an “emerald meteor” one night in a Hollywood alleyway (you can tell it's a Hollywood alley because even on screen, it looks like it smells just fine). Director Townsend pits this previously cowardly character against the Golden Lions, a gang of mammoth, blond-coiffed drug dealers who look more like extras from a Michael Jackson video than anything else, and lets him fumble his way through various superpower gags and embarrassingly “tender moments” until you just want to weep with boredom. Whether or not the film was intended for kids isn't as obvious as it should be; the violence is cartoonish in the extreme, and Townsend's extremely heavy-handed message of “If we all just work together, we can smash the gangs” is run into the ground so many times that by the time I left the theatre, I was seriously considering joining a gang just to get away from all the doe-eyed, feel-good pap Townsend had dumped in my lap. If the sentiment here were any broader, it would be a late night public service announcement. Granted, Townsend still has his twisted sense of humor (one of Meteor Man's newfound powers is the ability to glean knowledge, for 30 seconds only, from whatever book he touches; when he and the likewise empowered Golden Lions leader accidentally touch The Principles of Runway Modeling simultaneously in the heat of battle, well, RuPaul's blushing somewhere), but unfortunately that's not enough to sustain this oddly-edited mishmash of scattershot comedy and best intentions. It is nice to see James Earl Jones in a foot-high Kid N Play fade, though.