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DISNEY DOUBLE: NOW YOU SEE THE COMPUTER WORE TENNIS SHOES

year: 1972 cast: Kurt Russell, Michael McGreevey, Joe Flynn  rating: ***1/2
If there were a Dexter Riley TV series (based on the characters from THE COMPUTER WORE TENNIS SHOES), centering on the title character and his science class University cohorts, this would be the best episode: the worst being the completely dull follow-up THE STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD.

Although Kurt Russell looks more like a popular jock than underdog geek, you forget he's anyone else but the energetic young man who starred in many live-action Disney films of the sixties and seventies (before becoming John Carpenter's Clint Eastwood).

Dexter and goofball buddy Schuyler (Disney staple Michael McGreevey, the perfect human cartoon) use a spray Dexter invented that turns things invisible. This formula could cause them to win a science contest, which will free the school from debt.

So they follow their dean Joe Flynn to the golf course, a non-golfer trying to impress a millionaire golf nut who runs the contest. An invisible Dexter helps all Flynn's shots go in the hole: this is perhaps the funnest part of the film... after which that string of purposely-frustrating "Disney-letdowns" occur: the things that once worked now fail because of a villain's tampering.

Ceaser Romero is a crime boss with plans to turn the campus into his own Las Vegas. He and cohort Richard Bakalyan (always a Disney thug and the smug sharp-shooter cop in CHINATOWN) make themselves invisible, rob a bank and turn their car invisible.

Thus the last twenty minutes involves a chase between the students, the police, and the invisible car. Sure it's fun, but not as creative and involving as the initial set up . 
bonus: THE COMPUTER WORE TENNIS SHOES year: 1968 cast: Kurt Russell rating: **1/2
The first of three Disney "Dexter Riley" films starring Kurt Russell as the head of a group of eavesdropping science students at an always financially-strapped University is too plot-heavy. Dexter gets electrocuted by a computer and his brain becomes one, allowing him to pass tests with ease and excel and anything having to do with facts or memorization.

There's a boring kid named Pete who, in later Dexter films, is replaced as Dexter's sidekick by Michael McGreevy as Schuyler. McGreevey is in this movie but hasn't become Archie's Jughead yet. And there's too much emphasis on Caesar Romero, William Schallert and Joe Flynn and not enough of the kids.

This film isn't a students-strike-back team effort like the other two. It's mostly all about Dexter and the grown-ups and the premise gets pretty tired quick. "Now You See Him Now You Don't" is much better.
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