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Godsend

Clone alone

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So far we haven't seen a wave of movies that seek to capitalize on our fears about cloning a human being. I suspect that's because nobody right now is afraid it will happen. But if, as some say, human cloning is an act of the morally bankrupt, then Godsend is an act of the creatively bankrupt. It's certainly a movie that got made only because one prestigious older star and two good-looking younger ones agreed -- God know$ why -- to make it.

 

Godsend begins with a lengthy but accelerated prologue in which we meet Paul Duncan (Greg Kinnear), a dedicated urban high school science teacher who's been offered a cushy job at a safe suburban school, and his lovely wife, Jessie (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos), a photographer. Their son Adam (Cameron Bright) turns 8 as the story begins, and a few days later he gets hit by a car and dies.

 

Adam isn't even in the ground when the Duncans are approached by Dr. Richard Wells (Robert DeNiro), who offers them the chance to revivify their son using a cloning technique that he's secretly developed. The grieving parents agree, and for a while their new Adam is fine. But when he reaches his eighth birthday, he begins to have night terrors. Did the good doctor do something to the cloned embryo that he didn't share with the Duncans? Or is Adam remembering his dead former self?

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember Dolly the sheep having bad dreams about mutton chops and honey glaze. For a while Adam seems to turn schizo, and we finally learn the reason for his frightening behavior in the movie's  "surprise" ending, which is about as original as a beer burp.

 

Godsend was written by Mark Bomback, who's now at work on the screenplay for Die Hard 4. (Having just praised the Lord, apparently it's time for him to pass the ammunition.) His script, directed with a hollow, book-rule creepiness by Nick Hamm, makes no pretense of being about much. When a child asks the doctor if God made everything, the doctor says yes, even the people (like him) who figure out how to make other things. "If I'm not supposed to do this," the doctor shrieks at Paul in the movie's climax, which takes place in a burning church, "then how is it that I can?!" Oooooh, I don't know. Let's see. Could it be -- SATAN!?

 

And so we learn that evil is genetic, that Romijn-Stamos can cry, that Kinnear has an immutable charm, and that DeNiro will do anything for money. We also get to see another child actor put through an emotional ringer. Yes, this kid sees dead people all right. Only in Godsend, it's he. 1.5 cameras

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