Barney Springboro (Scott Baio) is a geeky high school kid who holes himself up in the science lab on a daily basis. A freak accident results in him gaining telekinetic powers, which he begins to use for his own personal gain. Along with his buddy Peyton (Willie Aames), he combats bullies and tries to score with girls, all while learning to harness his strange gift.
Zapped! is basically a light-hearted, sex comedy update of Carrie, complete with bullies and a religious fanatic mom who ends up calling in a couple of priests in a rather funny sequence that spoofs The Exorcist a bit. The whole thing even culminates at the prom, only there’s no pigs blood or dismemberment this time around--only hordes of naked girls. Along the way, it manages to be pretty amusing, if not predictable and somewhat limp at times. Essentially your typical high school rom-com with some fantasy elements, it loosely hits all of the familiar plot points as the two friends try to impress a couple of girls. Barney has his eye on fellow geek Bernadette (Felice Schachter), while Peyton ogles snobby prom queen Jane (a smoking hot Heather Thomas, whose body-double nude scene sparked some controversy). The narrative that unfolds is kind of inert, though, as it seems to climax (literally) about an hour in before any real conflict sets in.
Said conflict basically involves some moral quandaries that arise over the misuse of Barney’s powers. Never mind the fact that he’s used them the whole movie to cheat at sports and disrobe random girls (remarkably, no one seems too alarmed at the disappearance of the laws of physics). The duo aren’t a terribly memorable pair; Aames is more fun as the constantly-scheming, wannabe ladies man, while Baio is your typical dweeb. Luckily, they’re joined by Scatman Crothers, who plays a heavily boozing baseball coach who doles out words of wisdom about women and whiskey. Constantly at war with his old lady and understanding of everyone’s pursuit of the poon, he produces most of the flick’s uproarious moments. He also all but saves the it from being completely mundane, as the rest of the cast is comprised of generic types, such as clueless parents, preppy jocks, and a bumbling principal (who oddly gets a tacked-on love subplot that only serves to pad the run time).
For the most part, Zapped! eeks out a few more laughs than groans. Rosenthal keeps the various attempts at humor in steady supply and rarely slows down for any character moments. Some of the sequences, such as Crother’s marijuana-induced meeting with Albert Einstein, work despite their inanity. Others don’t work, particularly a fantasy sequence where Baio conjures up a terrible Star Trek fan film in his mind. Zapped! obviously isn’t a great film, but it’s recklessly stupid and basically uses telekinesis as an excuse to see some boobs. And let’s face it: if any pubescent boy ever gained such a power, stripping babes of their tops would be the first thing he’d do. Especially if Heather Thomas was standing around. (Brett G.)
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