(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century)
Doug (vo): It's Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. And if you think that doesn't date it, take a listen to this.
(A clip showing a lesson in the classroom involving computers, round table and a teacher communicating via hologram is shown)
Teacher: President Chelsea Clinton.
Doug (vo): Yep. That's the kind of "on the nose" writing we're gonna be dealing with here. Well, okay, looking at this, maybe it's supposed to be the late 21st century. That gives a bit of time... (A shot showing a laptop revealing the year the movie takes place in is shown) 2049! Yeah, definitely optimism at the height of foolishness. But, whatever. It's children's fiction. What's the story?
Doug (vo): Well, Zenon, the teenage girl, lives on a space station and does all sorts of things that a girl that age usually does, hang out with her friends, listen to bands, get in trouble, all that stuff. But when she sees that the biggest funder of the space station seems to be up to no good, she tries to call him out on it, but nobody believes her. As punishment for her actions, she's grounded, literally. She's grounded down to Earth, which she barely remembers because she left when she was in kindergarten. As you'd imagine, Earth and the space station are very different from one another, and she has a hard time fitting in. Her Aunt Judy is a little odd, the clothes are all different, people talk different, even the food and gravity are off from what she's used to. But slowly, overtime, she starts to make friends, and they start to realize maybe all the things she was saying about the funder was true, as those evildoers try to track her down, because she has some sort of secret disc, and ultimately, she ends up trying to save her space station while also trying to get a dance with her favorite boy band.
Doug (vo): Yeah, it's pretty silly. As you'd probably imagine, there isn't really that much in this for adults. This is clearly made for a very target audience of, I don't know, let's say five-to-11-year-olds. Because of this, a lot of the storytelling and acting is a little over-the-top, but I have to admit, when I was that age, this is the kind of acting and storytelling I liked listening to. It is exaggerated, there are a lot of catchphrases, but the film does try to contribute a few interesting ideas and fun environments.
(Several scenes showing the space station are shown)
Doug (vo): The space station, for example, is a really cool design. I just love looking at it. I love the colors, I love these setups. Okay, it looks a little cheap, but it's almost like being on Deep Space Nine, except from a little kid's point of view. I always thought that'd be kind of a neat idea.
(Scenes showing Zenon and her time on Earth are shown)
Doug (vo): But the nice thing is, the fun stuff doesn't stop when she leaves the space station. Her interactions on Earth are actually kind of interesting. Because she's not very familiar with it, she thinks everyone constantly has to dodge tornadoes and earthquakes and sicknesses, and if someone grew up on a space station, that is probably what they would assume. They say that gravity on Earth compared to the space station is also 30 pounds heavier. And they demonstrate this very cleverly by just having her go on this bridge that's at an angle, and they tilt the camera, and that's a very simple way of showing it, but it's also really effective. There's also fun contrasts, like even though she constantly gets into trouble and can do all these cool things on the space station, she's afraid of horses. She's known as a risk-taker back at home, but she's terrified of trying a burger. She even has good comebacks for these stereotypical bullies. Seeing how people on Earth and space station is dressed different, this one girl goes up to her and asks if she's gonna be in a freak show or dressing up for Halloween. Her response?
Zenon (Kirsten Storms): You win. It's the Halloween thing. Now, lend me that mask you're wearing, and I'll have the most hideous major costume ever.
Doug (vo): Oh, snap! I love that! You think she's gonna go through the whole movie just with her head down, looking sad and stuff. But, no. The first insult she gets, she throws it right back! I loved that they played around with that a little bit. But on top of that, it has a clever way of demonstrating a very familiar lesson. It is a "fish out of water" story and about adapting, but it's a kind of adapting that a lot of kids that age can understand. It's moving from one location to another, where the clothes are different and the language is different, and tiny things you took for granted can suddenly get you in a lot of trouble. But by adding that extra element of having it in the future and on the space station, it makes it a little bit more interesting.
(Several of the film's effects are shown)
Doug (vo): It's more fun and creative, even if, sometimes, the effects are pretty laughably bad. Come on. These were embarrassing even by the standards back then. But while the effects don't look that great, they do still take the time to have a character be in the moment. While the characters don't look like they're really there, they feel like they're really there. The movie takes time to just focus on their reaction and play some nice music and feel the environment. And they do the same thing on Earth, too, where you can appreciate the ocean and landscapes and such.
Doug (vo): I think this movie knows what's gonna be fun about it is the environment, and they let you as a kid enjoy it. Is it cliched? Sure. Can the characters get annoying? Eh, sometimes. But a few imaginative ideas and visuals mixed with even a few good performances from the boyfriend and the aunt give it a nice enough atmosphere where if I was the appropriate age they were aiming for, I would probably enjoy it. Not much in it for adults, but I don't really think it's meant for adults. It's meant for kids who need to learn about being out of place, but also about accepting new ideas and new environments. And this does have some imaginative ideas and environments. Most adults would fall asleep, but I think most kids would have a cheesy but fun time.
(The final scene, showing the space station floating off into space, is shown)