'Thunderbirds': Not a Go
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 30, 2004; Page WE40
This abomination of a movie (imagine a bad "Spy Kids" episode full of master-race dudes in silly space uniforms, all high-fiving each other) is a woeful attempt to introduce American audiences to a classic TV show that everyone in England grew up with in the 1960s and 1970s.
The original show was "Thunderbirds," a charming (and in later years, we grew up to realize, wonderfully campy) series that featured puppets. It was about a family called the Tracys who lived on a remote fortress island in the Pacific that hid launching stations for five super, jet-fired vessels. The family was the International Rescue team, and the supercrafts were outfitted for various types of emergencies in different terrains, from outer space to underwater. Headed by family leader Jeff Tracy, the team consisted of Tracy sons Scott, John, Virgil, Gordon and Alan. Also in the puppet cast was the fabulous Lady Penelope, an aristocratic ally of the Tracys' who was driven around in her Jaguar by her trusty driver, Parker, who replied to every question with a "Yes m'lady." Audiences soon learned the show's buzz phrases. "F.A.B." was the Tracys' way of saying "I read you." And old man Jeff always said, at least once a show: "Thunderbirds are go!"
The filmmakers of this American version (which features American actors in the British roles) could have redone this show with cool computer-generated animation and a perfectly well-known collection of British actors to voice the parts. Of course, a cool script would have been needed, too. Instead, this movie uses a cringe-worthy story about a new, younger Tracy, who goes to school in the United States, and dreams of joining his cool brothers on their F.A.B. missions. He gets his wish when the Hood (Ben Kingsley) decides to take over the island. But enough: This movie is horrible to sit through, let alone talk about.
Let this be an opportunity, however, for you to check out the original "Thunderbirds" (www.Thunderbirdsonline.com) on the Internet and rent some of those original shows, now on DVD.
THUNDERBIRDS (PG, 87 minutes) --Contains nothing objectionable apart from the whole movie. Area theaters.
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