A six-foot-tall rodent mascot for a pizza chain known more for its arcade games than its food participates in an intergalactic race on a faraway planet for a chance to win $50,000 so an apple-cheeked, little boy whom he just met can replace a broken tractor. That string of language vomit is the I-swear-I’m-not-making-this-up plot to the proof of God’s inexistence some people might dare to call a “movie,” Chuck E. Cheese in the Galaxy 5000. Based on how ridiculous the synopsis is, you might have some preconceived notions as to what type of film this is — I certainly did. Let me dispel some of those ideas right now by saying that 1) it’s a live-action film, not a cartoon and 2) it’s a musical.
Let’s get this review over with, shall we?
The movie opens with Mr. Cheese and his three other anthropomorphic animal friends (who will be mentioned by name in this review when/if necessary) entering a pizza parlor run by an Italian stereotype named Pasqually. I’m sorry, but I have to digress….
Watching the film, you’ll notice two very distracting elements in the first scene that will be present through the entire movie. First of all, Charles Cheese and company, despite talking incessantly, barely move their mouths and yet blink constantly, as if the head piece operators confused the mouth and eye controls. These are some of the worst animatronic heads I’ve seen since The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, another awful film you probably never knew existed until now.
Second, Pasqually wears a distractingly fake wig, a cartoonishly-large false mustache and even fake eyebrows. The entire time I wondered why the filmmakers would make that decision. Is that the best they could do? If so, why couldn’t they just find an actor who looked kind of like that character instead of making an actor wear all those applications? Why is his entire head covered in really bad fake hair, even the eyebrows? Was he a cancer patient? I don’t ask to be mean — it’s just so distracting that I kept wondering about it the entire time I watched the film and couldn’t get over it.
Anyway, back to the “story”….
Pasqually asks Chuck E. if he has any money, to which he and his friends say they only have a few bucks between them… and I don’t know why they entered a pizzeria without enough money to buy a pizza large enough to feed four people. C. E. Cheese asks Pasqually why he needs money, and we are then introduced to Charlie Rockit, a horrible child actor who needs $50,000 to replace his aunt and uncle’s farming tractor. Cheese and friends ask how they can come up with $50,000 since, apparently, Charlie’s aunt and uncle’s problem is now everybody’s because [insert motivation]. Pasqually says, “Imma glad’a you asked,” and then turns on the television, which just happens to be showing a news broadcast about the Galaxy 5000, an interplanetary race held on the distant planet of Orion… all of which are normal things to occur in this film’s universe, I guess, as no one questions why any of this nonsense is happening.
Pasqually tells Chuck E. that the grand prize for winning the race is 30,000 Keelars, which is — and I quote — “about fifty-two thousand U.S. dollars.” I guess having the conversion rate between an alien monetary unit and United States dollars equaling the exact amount of money that Charlie’s family needs is unrealistic. If there’s one thing that a children’s film about talking anthropomorphic animals racing in flying alien spacecraft on a distant planet needs it’s verisimilitude.
Speaking of not understanding the concept of suspension of disbelief, the next scene is this film’s first music number. Chuck E. leaps from his table and starts singing a song about “the scent of adventure” or some such piffle (my mind blanks out during films when people start singing). The best part of this scene is that as Chuck E. walks to the center of the restaurant to dance and sing, we clearly see the actors striking the set to give him room. I am not kidding. This film already asks the audience to accept giant talking animals, intergalactic racing, and characters singing and dancing choreographed numbers out of the blue in public as commonplace, yet using clever editing for the sake of plot convenience must be too much to buy into. I honestly can’t imagine anyone watching this movie and questioning the film’s continuity of furniture placement when the six-foot-tall mouse starts singing.
Strike that — I honestly can’t imagine anyone watching this movie, period.
After the song wraps up, the characters appear in a large laboratory-type room of some sort. Honestly, I don’t know — they’re just there without explanation or even a proper scene transition. On the floor of the room is a giant Trivial Pursuit game piece that Pasqually calls the Awesome Adventure Machine. Apparently, if you stand on the machine and flip the switch, it will teleport you to adventure; in this case, the Galaxy 5000 race. Why they didn’t abandon all pretense and call the machine the Plot Device, I’ll never know, but I’m all for whatever avoids wasting time with outer space travel and makes this movie end sooner.
When the crew arrives on planet Orion, a third distracting element rears its disfigured head: the “special””effects”, and there are not enough quotes in all of existence to properly surround both of those words. The rest of the film takes place on an alien planet, so every shot from here on out is live actors standing in front of a blue screen with a digital environment created around them. If you’re thinking of something like Sin City, don’t. This is an independently-made, low-budget film from 1999, so its computer rendering is severely lacking. For example, this is a shot of our “heroes” arriving on planet Orion:
If you ever watched the mid-’90s television show ReBoot or played a Playstation 1 game, you have a general idea of how this entire film looks, except it’s way worse because it was made years after either of those examples, so by all means it should look better. It also incorporates actual people amongst the bad CGI making it look even more fake, which doesn’t seem possible. If I were generous, I would describe the film as looking dated, but that insults time itself.
Upon arrival on the planet, we are properly introduced to the villains, the X-Pilots — Peter and Ivan. Did you ever see the Saturday Night Live sketch of Pumping Up With Hans and Franz? Well, Peter and Ivan are exact imitations of those two characters, who themselves were imitations of Arnold Schwarzenegger. I can’t wrap my head around that right now. Just know that they’re two dumb bohunks who can’t stop flexing and talking about how strong they are.
The X-Pilots are being interviewed by the press about their most recent speed record at the previous Galaxy 5000 and the muscle-heads beat up a reporter for asking a question about allegations that they cheat. Peter and Ivan then see Chuck E. and begin hitting on Helen Henny, the human-sized talking chicken that’s a part of Chuck E.’s crew. I would comment on how disturbing it is that two human males are flirting with an anthropomorphic hen, but I am literally only 12 minutes into this film and my brain is imploding, so I should just get through this as fast as possible.
The X-Pilots leave and we’re introduced to Flapjack, a mechanic who’s a friend of Pasqually’s and who’ll be fronting the vehicle that Chuck E. will race with. If you guessed that he’d sound like an old-timey prospector, then congratulations — you are just as creatively bankrupt as the makers of this movie.
Next up in the failure parade is Astrid, a race groupie. No, seriously. She’s just some woman who wants to hook up with a “real racer” and has eyes for Chuckie because beastiality is perfectly acceptable subject matter for a children’s movie.
Astrid’s flirtations with Chuck E. causes Helen to storm off in a jealous rage. In the next scene, Helen sings about how she wishes Chuck E. liked her or something (my brain thing again).
The next day is the qualifying race, and Helen is nowhere to be seen. Chuck E. gets nervous about her disappearance, but he does well during the race without her, up until the final stretch. In the second half of the race, the X-Pilots, realizing that they’re losing, kick it into Vega 2 (which is their version of warp speed or something) and activate “Zoom Gas.” Their cockpit fills with smoke and they begin giggling like they were on nitrous oxide. They blow right by Chuck E., who then decides to go to Vega 2 as well, only to lose control of his ship, crash against a canyon wall, and have his near-totaled ship barely cross the finish line in last place. Things are looking pretty bleak for that kid who needs the prize money for a new… um, rec center — wait, why is this all happening again?
After the qualifier is over, Chuck E.’s crew is looking pretty bummed, except for Helen, who is now arm-in-arm with the laughing X-Pilots. She comes over and teases Chuck E. by saying this race separated the men from the mice, which made me laugh because it is either a better burn than I was expecting from this movie or I am becoming stupider just by watching it. I’m willing to accept both options as possible.
Then Jasper, Chuck E.’s dog friend, has a country music number and the less said about that the better.
Helen follows the X-Pilots to their hideout where we’re introduced to Dr. Zoom — creator of Zoom Gas and sponsor of the X-Pilots — played by a David Carradine look-alike. Dr. Zoom tells — er, I’m sorry, I mean he sings to Helen that Zoom Gas is an inhalant drug that causes time to slow down for the user; the side effect being that it rots your brain.
When the X-Pilots inhale Zoom Gas, time slows down to the point that they can drive at Vega 2 speeds without losing control, and Dr. Zoom specifically hired those two morons to drive his vehicle because they didn’t have any brains to lose (which I am envious of because I can feel this movie constricting my brain to the size of a peach pit). Also, Zoom Gas is made of chicken extract, and they lured Helen to their hideout so they could lock her up and make her into more gas.
So just to reiterate, the villains are taking performance enhancing drugs to win races and are planning on making more drugs by killing and juicing a sentient being. Moving along….
Chuck E., despondent at his failure during the qualifier, goes for a solo practice flight that night, only to crash his car into a hermit’s cave. Harry the Hermit is played by the same actor who was Pasqually — he’s even wearing the same fake mustache, eyebrows and an equally fake wig as Pasqually’s. None of this is explained, not that I would expect it to, nor is it revealed at the end the the hermit really is Pasqually in disguise. They just couldn’t hire anyone else to play the part, I guess. I’m belaboring this point because this actor sucks. Every sentence of his dialog is spoken in a different accent. I can’t tell if this character is supposed to be Scottish, German, Irish or what. Then again, maybe the auditory receptors in my brain are finally giving out.
There’s only twenty minutes left of the film. I can do this.
So after Harry the Hermit sings a song about believing in oneself and Chuck E. has a training montage, it’s the morning of the big race. Astrid, Charlie, Jasper and Munch (who is such a non-entity in the film that I haven’t mentioned him until now) are sitting around wondering where Chuck E. is. Astrid then says that she came to the Galaxy 5000 to be with a real racer, at which point the X-Pilots show up and convince her to come with them. She leaves the table of losers and the X-Pilots deliver the two best lines of the whole movie:
As fun as it is to be a cynical jerk, I have to give the movie some credit in one regard: Helen Henny, who at this point in the film is kept under lock and key at Dr. Zoom’s place, frees herself. There isn’t a scene of one of the male characters coming to rescue her as she proclaims, “My hero!” She escapes by herself using her own ingenuity and without any help.
Helen plucks one of her feathers and uses it to pick the lock of her cage. She then frees the other chickens that Dr. Zoom has imprisoned, escapes from his lab, runs to the race track and tells the other characters that she suspected the X-Pilots were cheaters, so she pretended to like them to learn more about how they cheated and then expose their plan. She then notifies the authorities about Dr. Zoom and the X-Pilots using Zoom Gas and the villains are taken into custody.
Seriously, Helen is the true hero of the movie. She’s like Lara Croft, Velma Dinkley and a chicken all rolled into one, except less sexy than any of those things individually or combined.
Oh, and Chuck E. shows up at the race just in time and wins because of course he does.
The final scene of the film is a big song and dance number (natch) where all the characters celebrate the fact that Chuck E. won the race, completely oblivious to the fact that they have no way of getting back to their home planet and are stranded on the other side of the galaxy.
Look, I know you might look down on me for picking an “easy” target, but entertainment geared towards children doesn’t have to suck. Children are young and impressionable, so it’s important to expose them to quality films, not bottom-of-the-barrel dreck. Excusing a bad movie because it’s “for kids” is unacceptable. Children know better — I guarantee you that 8-year-old me knew the difference between a good film and a bad one — and children deserve better.
This film was made as a cash grab, riding on the coattails of another film made at the same time that had an intergalactic race as a central plot conceit. They didn’t have to make such a stupid movie. This film is so bad it killed brain cells. I feel like I’m a different, worse-off person for having watched it.
This movie must’ve been dusted with “Zoom Gas” as I can no longerrr skskjba sadf lib 8gfwli 023ljbsj jjjjjj
Watch Chuck E. Cheese in the Galaxy 5000 if you want to induce a stroke.
SCORE: 2.F out of BRAINDAMAGE
FUN FACT: Virtually every single person involved with this garbage has only this movie as their sole film credit, except for the woman who played Astrid. Lydia Mackay went on to have an extremely successful career as a voice over artist for anime films and television programs, and continues to work to this day.