Picks and Pans Review: Young Einstein

updated 08/21/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/21/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Yahoo Serious

The theorem is that the Australian film personality Yahoo Serious is precious. The proof is that (1) you have to be a precious guy to change your name to Yahoo Serious in the first place and (2) this movie, which Serious wrote, directed and stars in, is very precious indeed.

Its conceit is that Albert Einstein was born in Tasmania and set off to revolutionize physics, meeting Marie Curie, Charles Darwin and Freud en route. The film's big jokes are that everyone pronounces E=mc² (the formula for converting mass into energy) as "emk" and that Serious carries around a viola he has turned into an electric guitar. Strumming Rolling Stone and Chuck Berry riffs, he invents rock and roll at the same time that he ponders the nature of the universe.

As for other sources of humor, there's a guy dressed in a fur suit playing a Tasmanian devil and an insane-asylum inmate who makes kitten pies—with live kittens.

Mostly, Serious roams around and dabbles in a romance with Odile Le Clezio as Curie. (She's not married in the film, and since her maiden name was Sklodowska, it's either an obscure joke or—more likely, given the movie's general sloppiness—an oversight that she is named Curie.)

To give Serious the benefit of a huge doubt, the ending, which involves an atomic bomb of a sort, suggests this may all be a satire about the perversion of Einstein's genius. Then again, maybe Moby Dick is a novel about fishing.

In any case, we have started bottoming out in terms of importable Australians. Serious is energetic (he did his own stunts) and good-looking (think of the young Dean Stockwell with his hair standing straight out). But 7,000 miles is a long way to go for a film that is hardly worth walking across the street to see. (PG)

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