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Dorks save the day in Disney Channel's "Minutemen"

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Dorks save the day in Disney Channel's "Minutemen"

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Okay. Fess up. Who's been screwing with the space - time continuum?

The reason I ask is … In the world where I live (Well, used to live), TV movies that were produced for airing on cable channels - particularly those cable channels that targeted the tween demographic - were always pretty horrible. These made-on-the-cheap productions typically featured bad writing and even worse acting. Which made them really difficult to watch.

So if this is what TV movies that are aimed at the 7 to 13 year-old audience are supposed to be like … Then what the hell happened with "Minutemen," that new Disney Channel Original that debuts tonight at 8 p.m.? This charming sci-fi comedy is actually pretty entertaining for those of us who are decades outside of the target demographic.

(L to R) Jason Dolley, Luke Benward and Nicholas
Braun are the "Minutemen." Photo by Fred Hayes
 Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Of course, for baby boomers like myself who fondly remember "The Absent-Minded Professor" and "Son of Flubber (Not to mention that trio of Dexter Riley comedies that Walt Disney Productions released back in the 1970s: "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes," "Now You See Him, Now You Don't" and "The Strongest Man in the World"), it's actually kind of a kick to see the Mouse House returning to its roots. Where an amazing scientific breakthrough then serves as the catalyst for a comical, special-effects-laden adventure.

This time around, it's time travel that drives the story. To be specific, "Minutemen" features a device that will allow you to travel as far back in time as two days ago. Where you then have a 10-minute window during which you can fix any mistakes that you made in the recent past before you then must return to the present.

And for Virgil Fox (Played by Jason Dolley of "Cory in the House") ... Well, Virgil had his reputation ruined by one fateful mistake that he made on the very first day of his Freshman year. Ever since then, Fox has been labeled a loser. Condemned to spend the rest of his high school career as an outsider. With his only friend being Charlie (Played by Luke Benward of "How to Eat Fried Worms"), a child prodigy.

Charlie and Virgil wind up on the wrong side of a ram in
this new Disney Channel Original. Photo by Fred Hayes
Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

So when Charlie designs this device that will allow you to wind back the clock, Virgil sees it as a way to finally level the teenage playing field. Prevent dorks like himself from having their entire high school experience ruined by a single embarrassing mistake. So, after enlisting metal shop menace Zeke (Played by Nicholas Braun of "Sky High") to actually build the thing, this trio of outsiders then begin taking regular trips to the past so that they can begin repairing their peers' faux pas.

Which initially makes the Snowsuit Guys (So nicknamed for the somewhat bizarre outfits that Virgil, Charlie and Zeke wear whenever they blast to the past) very popular at Summerton High School. But then when Virgil begins using the time machine for personal reasons (i.e. To help out his longtime crush, Stephanie [Chelsea Staub of "Bratz"] as well as his one-time-friend, Derek [Steven R. McQueen of "Everwood"]), things start to get complicated.

Not to mention that -- each time the Minutemen jump backwards in order to save some dork from the embarrassment of being discovered with toilet paper stuck to his shoe -- they put another tear in the space - time continuum. Which is why the Feds have begun poking around Summerton High, as they try & find out who these time-traveling teens might be.

Charlie and Zeke get grilled by the FBI, as the US Government tries to find out
who's been tearing holes in the space - time continuum. Photo by Fred Hayes

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Which leads us to this TV movie's climax ... Where -- on the night of the big dance -- a black hole forms right in the middle of the high school's football field. And the only way to save the planet is for the Snowsuit Guys to make one last trip to the past. Where they must now undo all of the damage that they've previously done to the time stream. And did I mention that their return trip to the present involves a rocket-powered car?

If "Minuteman" sounds silly ... Well, it is. But in a very entertaining sort of way. John Killoran's teleplay (which took its inspiration from a story that David Diamond and David Weissman created) gives this talented young cast plenty to work with. And director Lev L. Spiro (Best known for his work on "Ugly Betty" and "Everybody Hates Chris") keeps things moving along at a good clip. So you never really have a chance to notice any plot holes.

Then when you fold in "Minutemen" 's top notch production values ... You wind up with a tween-centric TV movie that's as entertaining for adults as it is for children. Which (as I said earlier) I still see as proof positive that someone's been screwing with the space-time continuum.

"Minutemen" debuts tonight on the Disney Channel at 8 p.m. This Salty Pictures, Inc. production will then be rebroadcast on this basic cable channel at the exact same time on both Saturday & Sunday evening.

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  • I must admit that I watched this show twice this weekend with my wife and kids, and was surprisingly entertained.  Disney is definitely upping the competition for the tween market.

    I also enjoyed watched assistant vice-principal Hackett reprise his role from Phil of the Future.

  • I stumbled on to because I am a history buff and thought that the minutemen were the minutemen of Revolutionary War fame, but I got hooked and ended up watching the whole thing.

    It was very entertaining!

    P.S. I'm about 20 years outside the target demographic.

  • Even for a teen movie or time travel movie there were gigantic black hole size plot holes. But dang was it entertaining. The Back to the Future nerd in me loved the references to that movie.

  • I <3 this movie, it's awsome and the actors... i <3 them Luke Benward, Jason Dolley and Nick Braun (: I love!!! XOXO

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