There's a scene near the beginning of Zoom that sums up the entire film quite nicely. A group of government scientists are holding "auditions" for a top-secret team of adolescent superheroes, and child after child steps up to the table and offers a demonstration of his or her preternatural powers. Preternatural powers like, say, blowing huge, poorly-animated bubbles of explosive mucus out of one nostril. And flatulence. And blinking fast. The pitiful thing is, these kids actually seem to think they're doing something super when they're clearly not. Not so with the filmmakers behind Zoom—they're clearly not doing anything extraordinary either, but they don't seem to have any delusions of grandeur. Despite whatever connotations its title might suggest, Zoom is a movie marked by pure laziness, made by folks who either don't know or don't care what they're doing.
It isn't an awful premise. If the sequence described above sounds reminiscent of something from Mystery Men, it's because this film is very much in the same thematic vein as that underappreciated comedy, as well as more recent flicks like The Incredibles, Sky High, and this summer's My Super Ex-Girlfriend, wherein the extraordinary and the mundane collide when regular folks find themselves thrust into being costumed crime fighters.
Of those films, Zoom shares the most common ground with Sky High. As in that movie, a group of supernaturally talented kids are trained to hone and control their powers and to use them for good. In this case, the kids are drafted by a secret military unit, and, unbeknownst to them, they are being groomed to defend the world from a rapidly-approaching threat, supervillain Concussion (Kevin Zegers). Their teacher is none other than Concussion's brother, legendary superhero Zoom, a.k.a. Jack Shepard (Tim Allen).
It's kind of a bland plot, and the kids have kind of bland powers. Dylan (Michael Cassidy) can turn invisible. Summer (Kate Mara) can move things with her mind. Tucker (Spencer Breslin) can inflate and enlarge his body. And six-year-old Cindy (Ryan Newman) has superhuman strength. The only thing blander than their powers is their personalities—or lack thereof.
Tim Allen and Courteney Cox try to save the day … but not the movie
Perhaps the best summary of the film's utter, dismal failure is that it simply doesn't live up to its genre classification as a family comedy—it's not particularly family-friendly, nor is it even remotely funny. It's the script that fails in both of these regards—Zoom is the kind of movie that's punctuated with frequent exclamations of "Cool!" and "Sweet!" Younger kids might find this kind of dialogue to be entertaining, but even the youngest of moviegoers won't laugh at the film's attempts at cleverness. "You're old!" exclaims one character to another upon seeing one another for the first time in thirty years—and the sad thing is, that's one of the film's better zingers.
When the zingers do work, it's usually because they're sarcastic or even mean-spirited; most of these lines are spoken by Tim Allen's character, and, while they're mildly amusing at times, they're probably a little too edgy for younger kids. Combine that with a number of jokes about bodily functions and you've got yourself a film that will make some parents feel uncomfortable; there's nothing here that's quite as egregious as the double entendres of the Shrek films, but the PG rating should still be taken seriously by parents of very young children.