The Poof Point (2001)

The Poof Point (2001)

We open with Tahj Mowry breaking the fourth wall and showing us what “The Poof Point” has done to his life. Then we go back to normal times — well, normal for this family. Tahj’s character, Edison (Eddie), is playing the guitar while his scientist parents bumble about. His sister Marie reminds the parents, Norton (Mark Curry) and Marigold (Dawnn Lewis), about middle school graduation. Marie and Eddie are twins, but they clearly have their differences. When Marie says Eddie doesn’t know everything just because he’s skipped a grade, he strums the guitar rapidly and starts singing: “I am your bro, in the know, star of the show, so out you go, you’re blocking my glow.” This feels so 2000s, in a great way. Eddie says he wants to join the school’s hottest band and be an “Urban Slug,” and Marie squeals, “You’re going to be an Urban Slug the day I turn into Britney Spears.” Eddie then foreshadows the events of the film: “Maybe when our parents test their time travel machine today, they’ll accidentally send themselves back into the Stone Age, and we’ll get a well-deserved break.”

In these first few minutes, it’s clear that the generation gap between the parents and their kids is causing friction. Marigold and Norton are so wrapped up in their science experiments (to be fair, they have a grant from the government) that they never remember the names of their children’s friends, and they can’t relate to the slang of the early 2000s — Norton really has a problem with “cool.” At the eighth grade graduation, Marigold and Norton embarrass their kids terribly when they set the principal’s cap on fire. Back at home, Eddie tells his folks, “We have all the teachers we need at school. At home, it would be nice just to have a mom and a dad.” That’s an interesting parallel to the coach-parent problem seen in some sports DCOMs.

So, back to this time machine. The family’s dog, Einstein, turns a crucial piece of the machine into a toy, so it is not going to send Marigold and Norton back to the Stone Age like Eddie had hoped. As evidenced in the machine’s experiment on goldfish, the apparatus now sends its subjects backwards in their lives, making them sequentially younger until they disappear altogether. Norton and Marigold accidentally get sucked into the machine’s reach during another test. They age down to 21, figure out the solution to restore themselves, and age down further to 14 before they can try to fix the machine. All the while, they still look like they’re 40 years old.

Seeing their parents as teenagers helps Eddie and Marie understand them better, especially when Marie and her mom have moments of girl talk after Marigold and Norton develop feelings for one another. Eddie and his dad, on the other hand, bond over their love of playing the guitar. Just when mom and dad think they’ve cracked the code, their time machine formula goes haywire, so the kids decide to hit the undo button. Eddie has a guitar audition in the middle of this emergency. To make matters worse, a popular girl chatted with a vulnerable Marigold and has convinced the whole class to come out to the audition. The parents’ 14-year-old segment is the longest, but as expected, they de-age yet again. They are mentally seven years old in the last 20 minutes of the movie, horrifying Eddie and Marie’s accidental party guests. With the clock ticking only six minutes away from The Poof Point, Eddie and Marigold are suddenly two-year-olds. Marie works on the equation to save her parents from disappearing. The missing piece of the time machine (the vector modulator) is found. After Norton takes a bathroom break, with seconds to spare, the kids save their mother and father from going “poof,” and Norton and Marigold are mentally restored to age 40.

It’s interesting that the parents look like adults throughout the movie, but when they look in a mirror, they see themselves at whatever age they have regressed to. The story wouldn’t be quite as effective if their bodies had de-aged, which would have required younger actors to portray them for most of the film. In addition to joining the fantastic canon of sci-fi DCOMs, this movie focuses on the fragile relationships between teenagers and their parents. The film was based on an early ’90s book by Ellen Weiss and Mel Friedman that was a sequel to their book The Tiny Parents. Stu Krieger wrote the script, and Neal Israel directed this film after working with Tahj Mowry for Hounded. That’s right — Tahj starred in two DCOMs in one year. The Poof Point is one that you should certainly see if you haven’t already! It’s a hidden gem.

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