I mean, if you’re watching one Kurt Russell movie, why not make it two, right? And Disney+ keeps suggesting it to me, so why not? It’s there, and I’m already paying for it. As a child, I was so fond of these movies that I was literally shocked to realize, while watching Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, that I’d never actually seen a Kurt Russell movie in the theatre before, unless you count The Fox and the Hound. It’s not as strange when you realize that most of my favourite of his movies came out before I was born, but it’s still odd.
Here, he’s back for the third time as Dexter Riley, one of the most intelligent students at Disney’s perpetual Medfield College. Once again, the school is having financial problems, and this time, Dean Higgins (Joe Flynn) is going to resolve them by firing Professor Quigley (William Schallert). Dexter and the others agree that they need to come up with something fast that will save his job and the school. A series of incidents results in a super strength formula which Dean Higgins decides should be sold to a cereal company.
So okay, they first discover it when Dexter eats the cereal the formula was originally spilled onto. I get that. But why then sell the formula to a cereal company? Is that going to make them more money than anything else? I hope they were licensing it, not selling it. Properly handled, Medfield would never want for money again—I mean, since this is the last movie in the series, I guess they didn’t, but still. I just feel as though it’s a weird twist to sell it that way.
Of course, that’s largely so we can have the plot with industrial espionage. Dean Higgins sells the formula to Harriet Crumply (Eve Arden), maker of Crumply Crunchies. (I genuinely believed we were going to end with the pair of them hooking up.) They agree to have a weightlifting competition with State, Medfield’s perpetual rival, with State sponsored by Kirwood Krinkle (Phil Silvers) of Krinkle Krunch. Unbeknownst to Harriet, Harry Crumply (Dick Van Pattern), vice president of the company and nephew of the president, is also a spy for Krinkle. He agrees to steal the formula and arranges for newly released crook AJ Arno (Cesar Romero) to steal it.
I haven’t seen the second movie in a while, but I strongly suspect this is the weakest in the series. Not that The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes is exactly high art, you understand, but at least Dexter Riley is a more dynamic and interesting lead than Richard Schuyler (Michael McGreevey), who runs most of this movie’s plot. We get to watch Arno try to get the formula from him despite Schuyler’s being a dimwit who is unlikely to know the formula at the best of times.
Therefore, we also get a weirdly racist sequence with Ah Fong (Benson Fong, who was much better in The Love Bug), who is president of some Chinese business association but slips into a more traditional outfit than his suit, in which he’s presenting the police chief (James Gregory) with some award, in order to brainwash Schuyler with acupuncture. I mean, that’s the verb they use—brainwash. Which isn’t even the right verb, because he’s not trying to convince Schuyler of anything, just remember what he doesn’t think he knows.
This is one of those movies that clearly needed at least one more draft. Probably several. Remove the racism. Make literally anyone but Schuyler the main character. I’d settle for the cow. (Oh, yeah, all this happens because they’re trying to fatten a cow, so not that, either.) There’s a heck of a cast to this movie, but it’s another one of those movies where the cast doesn’t feel worth it.