In Key West during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, 14-year-old Gene (Fenton) is preoccupied with the forthcoming visit by B-movie king Lawrence Woolsey (Goodman) to promote Mant, his new bargain-basement exploiter about a chap mutating into an ant. Plotwise that's about it in this engagingly affectionate satire on small-town American fears. As Gene, his brother and buddies prepare for the riotous excitement of Woolsey's Saturday matinee preview, it's the details of the string of visual and verbal gags that make the film so enjoyable. The clips from Mant are spot on, what with the cod-scientific expository dialogue, dreary design, deathless hamming and Cold War clichés. Goodman's schlock merchant displays just the right mix of con-man materialism and childlike glee at his own bogus movie magic; the customary in-jokes and cameos reinforce the mood of loving, wryly amused hommage, and the kids' stuff never cloys. Inspired chaos, and for anyone into the delirious absurdities of '50s sci-fi, a must.
Cast and crew