Hercules | Chicago Reader

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Hoping to evade a prophecy that Hercules will grow up to foil his plan to rule more than just the underworld, Hades makes the son of gods nearly mortal in this animated musical, which starts off powerful but gets dull as soon as the adult Hercules meets his love interest. The classic duplicity of trendy Meg, who looks and sounds a lot like Sandra Bullock (though the voice is Susan Egan's), makes for a predictable unfolding of events. Many of the jokes—just obtuse enough to engender only delayed laughter—are all but superfluous, especially those in the songs of a female chorus whose commentary is far more convoluted than the plot. These rushes of verbiage resemble the movie's virtuoso animation: each particular achievement is hard to appreciate because it's lost in a sea of overkill. With the help of his satyr sidekick, Phil, Hercules markets himself to the community as a hero, inspiring an action figure bearing his likeness and other tie-in products. These winking self-references are as obnoxious as the Sprite ads that make fun of people for being susceptible to ludicrous slogans—if you think they're clever, then what does it mean that you've already bought the product? John Musker and Ron Clements directed a screenplay they wrote with Bob Shaw, Donald McEnery, and Irene Mecchi. The music is by Alan Menken, lyrics by David Zippel. With voices by Danny DeVito, Tate Donovan, and James Woods.

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