Rated: PG | Runtime 148 | AKA: Teenager Nostradamus
Creighton Van Meerks
Video Jerks Customer
When the light grows dim and festive flickering begins to dance / The Son of the Toolmaker shall rise up and take his boon
If you thought that was one of the quatrains of the famous prognosticator, Nostradamus – you’d be wrong. It’s just a little bit of my own creation, a tribute of sorts to the fine work of young thespian, Jonathan Taylor Thomas (heretofore to be referred to by his preferred nomenclature, JTT).
JTT is the star of the forgotten gem of 90’s cinema, "Teen Nostradamus". In it, he plays Michael Nostra, a young student at Quatrain High who seemingly has it all figured out. He’s popular with the jocks, he can match wits with the smart kids, and it looks like his dream girl likes him too.
Only one problem—he knows exactly when the world is going to end and it isn’t so far away.
The movie doesn’t start out all doom and gloom, at first Michael is a normal kid, but all of a sudden he is able to predict what the cafeteria will be serving at lunch. Next, he’s able to predict the final score at the football game. Finally, he lets it slip to some friends that the Assistant Principal will get run over by an out of control school bus the next day. When it happens just as he predicted, Michael becomes the most popular kid in school overnight.
When news of his abilities gets back to his parents, they spill the beans. Michael is the descendant of the famous seer, Nostradamus.
Michael takes the news the news like any normal kid would; he heads down to the arcade and uses his power of prediction to acquire thousands of Skee ball tickets. He uses the Skee ball tickets to buy a motocross dirt bike. That’s not the end of Michael’s rascally predictions. He also uses his powers to predict what kind of underwear the girls at school are wearing.
Michael’s predictions become more ominous, as he predicts that the United States will be destroyed by cataclysm of nuclear weapons, asteroids and a rogue comet.
He keeps that prediction to himself as he tries to figure out what to do.
JTT is really in his wheelhouse in this one. His supple acting reminds this reviewer of Gielgud’s early "Hamlet". His emotions are torn asunder in bubbling sea of frenetic energy. JTT plays the role with wry, knowing smile. The untrained eye would just see the performance as further exploration of the character "Randy" from "Home Improvement" and that untrained estimation would be the crude ramblings of someone who knows nothing of the journey of an actor.
Without giving away the climax of the film, I will say that I had the pleasure of having my eyes moistened several times by the delicate acting of JTT. This is a young man in control of his craft. He can stab the viewer in the heart with the turn of an eyebrow, only to cradle that same viewer with drop of a shoulder.
I could list the other actors in this film, but it would be inconsequential. JTT shepherds this film from beginning to end. I doff my cap eternally.
Creighton Van Meerks is the janitor at the Harold Community Playhouse. He likes to watch movies during his breaks. He once threatened to commit suicide if Video Jerks ever stopped carrying VHS.