Starring John Travolta, Kyra Sedgewick, Robert Duvall, Forest Whittaker
Opens: July 3, 1996 | Rated: PG
As a vehicle for John Travolta to show his range (i.e. he can be a nice guy too), "Phenomenon" is a success -- Travolta makes a superb Everyman.
As a pitch, I'm sure "Phenomenon" sounded like a positive, fantastical episode of "The Twilight Zone."
As a movie...well, may I just say -- better luck next time.
Travolta plays car mechanic suddenly struck genius George Malley. He becomes instantly and magically brilliant and physic after seeing a bright light in the sky (turns out there's a medical explanation so it's not as lame as it sound).
He reads several books a day, speaks three or four languages and can move this with his mind. As luck would have it, he's still a dolt when it comes to hitting on the new girl in town (Kyra Sedgewick), and before long his friends begin to fear and shun him because of his new abilities. Also the government gets nervous after he predicts an earthquake and breaks a code picked up on a ham radio.
Although the characters that populate the small town Malley lives in are all fine folks -- town doctor (Robert Duvall), ham radio hobbyist and farmer (Forest Whittaker), and Travolta's performance commendable, the film-making is careless and sloppy.
The relationship between Travolta and Sedgewick seems forced, doubly so in the love scenes which just flat don't fit in. The last 45 minutes of the story could have easily been told in 15. But it must be said this would be a good date movie as there is plenty of time to talk to your companion about all the area's the movie fails to explore.
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