Paul (Greg Kinnear) and Jessie (Rebecca Romjin-Stamos) are devastated when their 8-year old son Adam (Cameron Bright) is killed in a freak accident on his birthday. When a distant acquaintance, Dr Richard Wells (Robert De Niro) approaches them with a cloning proposition, they eventually agree, despite knowing the risks and the legal/moral realities. Wells is anxious to prove his groundbreaking work in genetic engineering but what the traumatised parents can't know is what will happen when their replica son turns eight.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Send in the clones is the appropriate theme song for this underwhelming attempt at psychological thrills; it ends up like any mass produced genre piece in which the only thing that is well developed is the film negative. Yes, it looks great. The script begins by posing the premise: what if your beloved son was killed and I could clone him for you so you had him back. The legal, moral and practical issues are indeed sensational material, a great and timely idea to explore.
From this point, both the screenplay and the direction start to fray. The screenplay adds a layer of totally B grade supernatural, and the direction lacks any connection with the realities of the situation. Rapidly skimming through the plot points, Nick Hamm forgets to even hint at how or where Dr Wells obtains dead Adam's cells for the cloning. Later in the film we realise there is a reason for this evasion, and it has to do with a pathetic plot twist.
Once Paul and Jessie agree to the highly secret and illegal plan, they have to start a new life on the Dr's extensive lakeside estate, severing all ties with family, friends and work. Snap your cinematic fingers and hey presto.
More speed as we get past the pregnancy and birth, and wheee, now it's the replica Adam's 8th birthday again. It's fine that he looks 8, but his parents must have aged another eight years and nine months. Doesn't show. Indeed, nothing has changed in their lives in that time.
There's also a nanny who confesses attempted murder to Paul when he comes knocking on her door, even though she's never laid eyes on him before, and in her confession she reveals information about a dead woman killed by her son, which only the dead woman could have known. Now I know there are strange bumps in the night in this film, and some para-normal activity is thrown around as part of mystification of the audience, but this nice nanny is not meant to be a seer.
The script is so unrestrained that it just stumbles over every trap that it sets itself. Had common sense prevailed, this premise could have been teased out with vigour, drama and tons of emotional, moral cross roads to make us think and feel and struggle with the complex issues involved. It has dumbed itself down, star-cast itself up, and comes out like a sausage - without the sizzle.
There are four alternate endings on the DVD, storyboard comparisons, plus an audio commentary with director and cinematography.
Published October 28, 2004
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GODSEND: DVD (M)
CAST: Greg Kinnear, Rebecca Romjin-Stamos, Cameron Bright and Robert De Niro
DIRECTOR: Nick Hamm
SCRIPT: Mark Bomback
RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: 4 alternate endings, audio commentary, storyboard comparisons, trailer
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
DVD RELEASE: October 27, 2004