Kehr Capsule of the Week: Baby… Secret of the Lost Legend (1983)

The awkwardly appended title, with its imperfect balance of Disney-esque whimsy and Spielbergian pulpiness, suggests most of what went wrong with this badly botched project (1983). The core concept is sweet and wistful: two clean-cut young Americans (William Katt and Sean Young) discover a living baby brontosaurus in an African jungle, and the cuddly little creature quickly becomes the substitute for the child they never had. But director B.W.L. Norton (More American Graffiti) surrounds the sweetness with a heavy, crude, and far too realistically rendered action plot (Patrick McGoohan as an evil scientist bent on stealing the hatchling for his own nefarious ends) that effectively cancels out whatever warmth the film manages to generate. Norton obviously wanted to make a film that would appeal across the board—to young adults, to teenagers, and to kids—but instead of finding an approach that would work with all three groups, he panders to each one in turn, shifting awkwardly between fantasy, violence, and situation comedy. With Julian Fellowes and Kyalo Mativo.

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