Rated: PG-13 Reviewed by: Chris Release date: August 6, 1993 Released by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Is it a bird? A plane? -- No, it's Meteor Man. Robert Townsend, who wrote and directed this comedy, stars as Jeff Reed, a meek substitute teacher who teaches his students to run away from the school bullies, instead of standing up to them.
He lives in a Washington, D.C. neighborhood that's overrun by the Golden Lords, a black street gang who get their name because they dye their hair golden yellow. The gang's made up of every age group and they terrorize by stealing, beating and selling drugs at will. That is, until Jeff's hit by a falling meteor and takes on strange powers. He can fly communicate with his dog absorb the knowledge of any book he touches, although it only lasts for 30 seconds, has superhuman strength and x-ray vision (but, because this is a PG-rated film, he only can see down to their underwear).
The neighborhood is made up of some terrific veteran actors. Robert Guillaume and Marla Gibbs are Jeff's parent, James Earl Jones is an aging man who, in an attempt to attract young women, changes from one ridiculous toupee to another, the funniest being a mile-high, hip-hop style, and Bill Cosby is a helpful street person. They've organized a neighborhood watch to combat the thugs, but they're losing the battle, as one by one they end up in the hospital.
Since the police are mysteriously missing from this scenario, Jeff steps in to help bring law and order, aided by his flashy Meteor Man outfit sewn by his mom.
He makes the block safe for a while, until he notices that his powers are starting to diminish. Unfortunately, he notices this during a big slug fest with the top bad guy honcho.
Townsend has set up a funny premise, even though it's silly, I laughed out loud quite a few times. He employed some talented actors who are seen too infrequently lately. Besides Gibbs and Guillaume, classy Nancy Wilson plays the school principal and the great Frank Gorshen (The Riddler on the Batman T.V. series) as a dapper mob boss.
Townsend (The Five Heartbeats) is a very likable actor with a quick smile and unassuming manner, and Meteor Man has enough funny visuals and crazy situations to keep both kids and adults happy.