A very unique watch falls into the hands of teenage Zak (Jesse Bradford). It has this super cool ability to speed up the molecules of the wearers body. This basically means it makes time and everything around him slows down and stops! That is so neato!
You can do such awesome stuff with this powerful watch. It can help Zak play jokes on people, allow him to help his friend win a DJ-ing competition and finally gives him an ideal opportunity to impress the new super cute girl at school. The only downside is mean government agent Michael Biehn wants the watch back and Zak has to run away from him.
Clockstoppers is a Nickelodeon film i.e..it’s target audience is a very particular age group. This is not meant to be a hefty exploration of science fiction ideas to explore consequences and teach morals.
This isn’t like the 1963 Twilight Zone episode ‘A Kind of a Stopwatch’, which had a similar premise and ended with that surprise twist ending that left everyone haunted. The elements of time and the powers and dangers with it held by our hero aren’t going to be explored for mind-blowing lessons to be learned here.
No. This is a Nickelodeon movie. The most Clockstoppers will do with the premise is show you how funny it would be to move a peeing dog into a meter maids car.
So, Zak is one of these likable high schoolers (when this started I seriously thought he was supposed to be in college) who his college professor dad isn’t spending much time with. Zak has an annoying sister, a fun comedic pal and has dreams of buying a car. He meets new student Francesca (Paula Garcés) and really likes her. She doesn’t seem too interested in him though.
Through a series of convoluted events that is better to skip over (the movie should have skipped over them too) this time stopping watch lands in Zak’s possession and on his wrist. He discovers its powers with Francesca, they have fun with it, allowing the movie to show off the only real selling point it has – some of the freezing time effects.
Water standing still in mid-air. A bee flying in mid-flight. People frozen. It’s really not all that impressive watching this today. I’ve seen a lot more complicated and interesting examples of this being done in television commercials. I could say maybe at the time this was more dazzling than today, but it really hasn’t aged all that well and there’s really nothing unique they do with it.
The lame story also hasn’t helped Clockstoppers legacy. Basically, it’s over-the-top scientist French Stewart who invented this watch being held prisoner by Biehn forcing him to perfect it. Stewart reaches out to Zak’s dad, sends him the watch, which is how Zak ends up with it. Biehn and his baddies go after Zak to get the watch back, kidnap his dad and it’s up to Zak to save him and stop the bad guys. He does this with the help of a paintball gun with freezing pellets or something.
Just typing that made me bored.
While watching this I kept thinking had this been made in the 1980’s it might have been done much better. For some reason in the ’80’s it seemed like they could take these wild, high-concept silly premises and do much more with them.
They could actually make them more entertaining movies, make them smarter and be more inventive with them. This could have been more in the vein of Weird Science, Real Genius, My Science Project or flicks like that.
Some of the scenes felt like they dragged on for WAY too long and the comedy never comes. The insipid DJing scene felt like half the movie! Things take too long to set things up. Zak and his Dad’s little tiff is so forced and played so badly that it’s impossible to take seriously. The turnaround of Francesca suddenly liking Zak comes out of nowhere. The supposed fun of the time freezing scenes is very boring and doesn’t offer any kind of real payoffs. Oh gee, Zak pulled his friends pants down…..isn’t that funny kids!
The cast is either forgettable, unfunny or annoying. In some cases all three! The only notable thing for me throughout this whole thing was Paula Garcés who is gorgeous to look at! I think she was 28 here playing a teenager. Somewhere along the lines in the movie she loses her accent. It doesn’t matter.
So, Clockstoppers might have been made for kids and they might get a kick out of it, but for most everyone else it will play as pretty silly, stilted tripe with a cool premise that is just completely wasted.
The soundtrack was pretty good at least.
Here’s the trailer
A movie, or at least a TV movie, on this concept was done in the 1980s. It was called “The Girl, The Gold Watch and Everything” which starred Robert Hays and Pam Dawber. It was fun, had two likeable leads and didn’t overplay its hand. Worth checking out.
The only scene I can really remember is when Zack, Francesca and French Stewart’s character are in a hotel and Franesca comes out of a bathroom having taken a shower. She’s wearing a towel. She throws out one line, then goes back into the bathroom. That’s it. And immediately I thought “they managed to squeeze in a scene with Paula Garces wearing nothing but a towel for nothing other than fan service.”