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Review: ‘The Adventure Club’ An Homage Fest That Spins Its Wheels

The Adventure Club is a crafty little family film that cobbles together familiar elements from dozens of popular movies. It’s an earnest attempt at pre-teen adventure films, but it never manages to get going. At all.

Mixing elements of The Explorers, The Goonies, Indiana Jones, and dozens of other popular films, the story focuses on a trio of kids with their very own adventure club, complete with an epic clubhouse and patches on their jackets. But the problem is they just don’t have an adventure. They try to time travel with a machine they bought online (yeah, like Napoleon Dynamite), but that doesn’t work.

Desperate for action, the de facto leader of the club, Ricky (Sam Ashe Arnold), goes snooping around his archeologist grandfather’s den and finds a key hidden in a picture frame. Pretty much the rest of the second act involves Ricky and his two friends, Bill and Sandy (Jakob Davies, Dalila Bell), trying to figure out the key’s use, and the introduction of the villains. One is Ricky’s mom’s new boyfriend, the other is Langley, played with wonderful theatricality by none other than Billy Zane.

Zane injects some life into the film, and his acting chops elevate any scene in which he’s involved. But the story has nothing to do for almost an hour of the 90-minute runtime. The kids snoop around a museum, and they figure out the key unlocks a secret room where a puzzle box waits for them. The puzzle box, they figure out with the help of the stock kooky antique store owner (the great Kim Coates), grants wishes. And Langley and his hired henchman want their hand on it for obvious reasons.

Conflict eventually comes to The Adventure Club, but the film leading up to these climactic moments slogs along conventional plot lines with hardly any forward momentum. It’s odd really, given that this is a film aimed at pre-teens looking for adventure. There’s almost nothing happening in the first two acts to hold the short attention spans of 11-year old boys.

At the same time, for what it’s worth The Adventure Club is put together competently by director Geoff Anderson, and has all the best intentions. It would be unfair to tear the film apart for its meager budget or questionable acting on display, but there’s no real reason why the story spends so much time treading water.

Larry Taylor - Managing Editor
Larry Taylor - Managing Editor
Larry is the managing editor for Monkeys Fighting Robots. The Dalai Lama once told him when he dies he will receive total consciousness. So he's got that going for him... Which is nice.
Review: 'The Adventure Club' An Homage Fest That Spins Its WheelsThe Adventure Club is a crafty little family film that cobbles together familiar elements from dozens of popular movies. It's an earnest attempt at pre-teen adventure films, but it never manages to get going. At all. Mixing elements of The Explorers, The Goonies, Indiana Jones, and...