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Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.


Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris


St. Petersburg Times Online

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'Bubble Boy' bounces over little kids' heads

By BILLY NORRIS

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 27, 2001

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Movie: Bubble Boy

Rating: PG-13, for very crude humor

Summary: Jimmy Livingston (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a teenager who was born with immune deficiencies. He is forced to live in an elaborate plastic bubble built inside his house and designed to protect him from germs. As the years go by, he falls in love with his neighbor Chloe (Marley Shelton), the only person who ever took the time to get to know him. Eventually, she leaves for Niagara Falls to get married. Jimmy builds a portable bubble and sets out on a cross-country adventure to stop Chloe's wedding and tell her how he really feels, and what an adventure it is!!!

My view: First of all, this movie has a very deceiving title. The name Bubble Boy, the promo trailers and the connection to Disney make it sound like a kids' movie. Wrong! Despite the trailers showing a happy teenager bouncing around in his plastic bubble, this is definitely not a movie to send young kids to! There were a lot of 5- to 10-year-olds in the theater at the screening I viewed, and they didn't seem to understand the content at all, or even the jokes, which was probably a good thing. A lot of the humor was inappropriate for young children.

A controversy has arisen over this film. A national boycott is being suggested by parents who say the movie makes a joke of immunodeficiency diseases. I don't think that was the movie's intention, but I can understand the concern by families who have dealt with these serious disorders, which can be fatal. I think the film producer got a little carried away in trying to develop a box office hit, becoming insensitive to real-life situations and offending people without even meaning to.

Favorite part: A lot of things in this movie did make me laugh; the cast of oddball characters Jimmy met along the way provided much of the humor.

Least favorite part: Except for some funny dialogue, which picked up as Jimmy hit the road, the movie was just average. It really dragged at the beginning.

Recommendations: This is not a movie for kids under 13! Parental guidance is strongly suggested!!

Grade: C

Billy Norris, 13, is in the eighth grade at Seminole Middle School and is a former member of the Times X-Team.

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