'Godsend': A Cursed Clone

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 30, 2004

HERE'S ONE THING I don't get about "Godsend," a silly if sporadically jolting thriller about parents who clone their beloved dead son, Adam, only to find that the replacement turns out to be a murderous little wacko: What did the boy's mom (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) and dad (Greg Kinnear) expect, given the fact that they go out of their way to give Adam No. 2 a haircut that makes him look like something out of "Children of the Corn"? Heck, if a barber butchered my 'do like that, I'd change my name to Damian and flip out, too.

Okay, so the boy (Cameron Bright) doesn't really change his name to Damian. Nevertheless, he does start talking about someone named Zachary a lot, even as he starts making eerie pronouncements such as "Dad, I don't think I like you so much anymore" and "Something bad's going to happen." That's in between spitting at his teachers and having the kind of nightmares that made me think the family must live on Elm Street.

I guess Mom wasn't kidding when she howled, during labor, "Something's wrooong!"

Let's start with the fact that Paul Duncan (Kinnear), a biology teacher for crying out loud, allows this misbegotten plan to proceed at all. One minute he's arguing with his wife, Jessie (Romijn-Stamos) -- a very sensible argument, I might add -- that, even if the clone looks exactly like Adam No. 1, it's still going to be a different person, and the next minute he's handing her the phone to call Dr. Frankenstein.

Excuse me, make that fertility expert Dr. Richard Wells (Robert De Niro, sporting both an avuncular twinkle and a satanic-looking Vandyke beard). Look, I know there are gullible folks out there, and parents in mourning are probably among the most susceptible, but hasn't anyone in this movie seen "Rosemary's Baby"?

You want a second child to replace your first one, but you can't conceive? One option is adoption, people. Look it up.

Anyhoo, Adam No. 2/Zachary/Damian comes along, and everything is hunky-dory until his eighth birthday (the age at which Adam No. 1 died). Then Dr. Wells starts acting a little too emotionally invested, and Jessie takes a vacation -- to the state of denial.

That leaves only Paul to unravel what's really going on. And unravel it does. As the film's boo! moments get spookier and more frequent, "Godsend" gets more and more inane -- not to mention derivative. As it turns out, Adam isn't the only product of a test tube's worth of secondhand DNA and far too little imagination.

GODSEND (PG-13, 100 minutes) -- Contains some violent imagery, mild obscenity, a scene of discreet lovemaking, thematic material related to the death of a child and lots of moments designed to make you jump in your seat. Area theaters.

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