Phenomenon

Bomb Rating: 

Founding a religion is a good second option for those who can't write their way out of a paper bag.

Go to any Scientology page on the Web and you'll find out that Scientology teaches you things you never thought you could learn before. It teaches you how to expand your mind. It teaches you how to deal with different types of phenomena. Then, several years and thousands of dollars of contributions later, it unveils the ultimate truth: We're all just pawns in the intergalactic war between the marauding Space Hittites and the doe-eyed, tentacled Neebs. This is the point when many Scientologists, realizing that they've cleaned out their bank accounts at the behest of a really bad, if religiously themed, science fiction story, say the following: "Oops."

John Travolta is a Scientologist, and attendees of "Phenomenon" will soon realize that they've squandered their entertainment dollars on a similar mistake. Travolta's character, George Malley, sees the light (so to speak), and can suddenly learn languages in twenty minutes and move pencils just by wiggling his fingers. His friends begin to think he's a freak. His woman-to-be (Kyra Sedgwick) begins to see him as a persecuted Christ figure.

"Phenomenon" soon segues into outright religious brainwashing. As George explains that he's the representation of human potential, you're supposed to think, "Wow, I can be just like George. I, too, can realize my fullest potential. George is the True Way! All hail George!" What you quickly realize, however -- as the screenwriters of "Phenomenon" and L. Ron Hubbard did before you -- is that founding a religion is a good second option for those who can't write their way out of a paper bag.

And what exactly is supposed to be so alluring about Kyra Sedgwick? Is it something only cubists are supposed to appreciate? Her lips look like they were drawn on by an epileptic preschooler who got a hold of a red crayon. When she moves seductively toward Travolta, the suspense mounts as you ask yourself, "Is she going to kiss him or eat him?"

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