Coming of Age, Science Fiction, take your pick. McG’s Rim of the World mixes and matches your favorite moments from Goonies, Aliens, even Jurassic Park. It’s a what’s what of genre influences, some to the point of rip-off over homage. Still, the once-ballyhooed filmmaker has managed to squeeze out a few sweet/funny/charming scenes thanks to a game cast of young kids and their surprising chemistry together. They can’t save it from itself, but they sure do make it an easy watch.
The young teen quartet is made of a Nerd, a Criminal, an Orphan, and a Joke. Think Breakfast Club when the four of them become eponymous and literally voice all of these aloud. The Nerd is your typical kid protag’ and subject to that whole coming-of-age thing, divorced Mom and Dad included. He’s a science wiz, hates the outdoors, and gets wheezy around girls, go figure. Of course, he’s got a thing for the Orphan, a stoic, silent Chinese girl shunned by her father. The Criminal is a juvy escapee who lost his father to something and his mother to everything, especially abandonment. He’s also got a great head of hair and a mean right hook, so in the real world he would get the girl. The Joke is a child of wealth and privilege, a yammering wannabe man overcompensating for a secret at home. They’re all the product of bad parenting or bad luck, and they’ve been saddled with saving the world. The quiet romance between Nerd and Orphan is sweet and the occasional pop culture reference is quite funny, though eventually they reach ad nauseam. How on Earth does the dumbest kid know a quote from Gladiator but can’t tell Star Wars from Star Trek? The aliens are almost an afterthought here, a basic means of providing these young’uns plenty of hurdles to overcome. That being said, there’s an amusing bit suggesting the ghastly beast on their heels is an alien John Wick out for blood after they killed its “dog.”
Rim of the World ultimately suffers from thin plotting and basic characterization, not to mention good ol’ McG doin’ his thang, drowning the film in rapid-fire nonsense. Between the Joke and a silly camp counselor (King Bach), there are two African-American roles defined by a loud-mouthing zeal that borders on caricature. The entire film amounts to caricature, with half of it bearable somewhat because McG found a couple of kids who play really well together. The World is a trifle.