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Hello, Dolly!: Bad Seed Fails to Take Root in Cloning Thriller

Gene genie: Cameron Bright in Godsend
photo: Kerry Hayes/Lions Gate Films
Gene genie: Cameron Bright in Godsend

Last year's cinematic dead-kid-apalooza makes the leap from think-piece topic to overextended formula with Godsend. Working from the assumption that nobody remembers grade school science, let alone the last 30 years of horror movies, Nick Hamm's genre mishmash clumsily recasts The Omen as a cautionary tale featuring a human incarnation of Dolly the sheep. Greg Kinnear and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos are the parents of an eight-year-old killed in a freak accident, whom a "brilliant" genetic researcher (Robert De Niro) offers to surreptitiously clone. (The doc's genius has to be taken on faith since De Niro offhandedly refers to "chromosones.") The bun is in and out of the oven posthaste, and by the time the new (old?) kid turns eight, things go inexplicably awry. The pivotal plot twist isn't hard to predict, and Brit theater vet Hamm and screenwriter Mark Bomback rely on jolts that date back to the silent era. About the only real intrigue comes from parsing Godsend's underlying message that, from conception onward, kids are a bother even when they're not homicidal knockoffs.

 
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