Bomb Rating: 

If you went to Vegas three years ago and had to lay money down on whether in three years a movie based on a 1960s puppet show called "Thunderbirds" was going to get made or whether George W. Bush was going to announce a manned mission to the sun, I guarantee you that your money would have been on the manned mission to the sun regardless of whether you think George Bush is an idiot or a genius. I mean, who the hell makes a movie based on a British puppet show that, with maybe one or two exceptions, nobody on the planet has ever heard of?

Since few if any living people are familiar with the "Thunderbirds" concept, that leaves the perplexed audience member to sit there and wonder what the hell is going on. "Thunderbirds" the movie ends up being sort of like "Spy Kids" except it takes place a few years in the future as the Tracy family, headed by Jeff Tracy (Bill Paxton), flies around in cool ships and saves people during typhoons and earthquakes and various other accidents. Pretty much the entire family is involved, except young Alan (Brady Corbet), who gets left home alone with friend Fermat (Soren Fulton) and Tintin (Vanessa Anne Hudgens). At precisely the moment the kids are left to fend for themselves, The Hood (Ben Kingsley) shows up and takes over the Tracy compound.

Making matters more confusing is Lady Penelope, Jeff's apparent love interest and a British spy who gets driven around in a huge pink flying car by her chauffeur, Parker (Ron Cook). Their relationship seem to be a not-so-subtle cross between Inspector Clouseau and Cato, and Arthur and Hobson.

The film is directed by Jonathan Frakes, who last helmed the incomprehensibly bad "Clockstoppers" and has a gift for avoiding subtlety like an elephant running through a Faberge egg shop. Of note is Brains (Anthony Edwards), a character who, along with his son Fermat, stutters like Porky the Pig. That's one of those movie situations where you wish you had brought a gun to the theater so you could just end your life right there.

I suppose "Thunderbirds" could be a dynamite-rated film, but I think of it as trying a new flavor of ice cream for free. If you don't like it, you just throw it in the trash and move on. However, if you're actually stupid enough to pay to see this, that's another story.

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