Theodore Rex, the weirdest of weird '90s movies, is a $33 million direct-to-video buddy cop movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and a wisecracking dinosaur.
(Take as much time as you need to wrap your brain around that sentence. We understand.)
Theodore Rex wasn't an attempt to tie into the dino-fever that swept the nation’s youth in the early '90s; it was a genuine attempt at making a gritty sci-fi film about a detective and her dinosaur partner. That’s right. Legendary EGOT-winner Whoopi Goldberg and a Talking Man-Sized Dinosaur teamed up for a cop film and they demanded to be taken seriously. (The 90s were a very strange time.)
Even though the film is a complete nightmare, things behind the scenes of Theodore Rex were much worse. As weird as it sounds, we can’t stress this enough: nobody had fun on this Whoopi Goldberg/Dinosaur joint.
All Dinosaurs Share A Psychic Connection
This detail is something that comes up twice and it's never discussed again. The film begins in a dream that informs Theodore that one of his dino-brethren has been murdered. He then goes on a Dale Cooper-esque hunt through the city to find the person that committed the "dinocide."
After initially mentioning the psychic connection to Goldberg's character early in the film, it's not mentioned again until Molly Rex (voiced by Carol Kane!!!) also brings up the dream of the dino-death. But then that's the end of discussing the psychic connection between the dinos. There are moments in the film when the characters could actually use their powers to communicate with each other, but instead the film simply devolves into screeching and third act horseplay.
Theodore Rex Looks Like It Was Filmed On The Set Of Batman Returns
Despite taking place in an unnamed metropolis Theordore Rex feels incredibly claustrophobic. According to the film's production designer, Walter Martishius, he wanted to drape the city in"purples and blues and yellows" to "dull the sci-fi edge." Unfortunately, the softening of the film's sci-fi edge makes the movie feel like it was filmed on unused sets from Batman & Robin and the Super Mario Bros. movie. In an alternate reality, the crew snuck onto the unused sets in the middle of the night to save money. Unfortunately they actually spent money on this faux-Blade Runner nightmare.
Additionally, because Teddy Rex had a non-detachable, five-foot-long tail, every single set needed to be designed with that tripping hazard in mind. Every interior needed to be big enough to accommodate the tail and whenever a scene called for Teddy to sit in a chair, Walter would have to build a new chair with a hole for the tail. It's easy to see how production can spend $33 million when every chair is a custom build.
This Movie Is A Tonal Mess
It never feels good to tear down a piece of art, but it's hard to imagine that there's anything good buried inside this melange of family friendly science fiction tropes. First of all, the film doesn't just look bad - it's as if you asked 20 different people to describe the meaning of "dystopia" and made that into a stylistic choice. On top of the film looking dreadful, the acting choices are all over the place. It's never clear how anyone is supposed to feel or if they're even in the same movie. Theodore is an overly sincere character that was described by a producer as "idiot-like" while Goldberg's Coltrane waffles between being dismissive and malicious.
The film may have begun as a gritty science fiction film about cloning, but the addition of a talking dinosaur, a series of extended fart jokes, and a clothing montage managed to turn the film into a kaleidoscope of unnecessary details.
No One Has Fond Memories of this MoviePhoto: user uploaded image
Unsurprisingly, no one looks back on this movie with anything resembling affection. We already know that producer/financier Stefano Ferrari thinks it's "ac actual piece of sh*t" and Whoopi never seems to bring it up in interviews, but let's check in with the rest of the team!
Richard (Producer): "You know, I meant to take my name off this picture, but by the time I got around to it it was too late.... the movie is in my view unwatchable."
Jonathan (Writer/Director): "I don't remember much. I have no short-term memory for sad things."
Walter (Production Design): "I didn't think anyone knew this movie existed."
Bruce (Puppeteer): "What a strange, strange movie. It was the germination of a crazy idea that should have just been left as a crazy idea."