Lisa Schwarzbaum
December 18, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

A Simple Plan

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
Wide Release Date
12/11/98
performer
Bridget Fonda, Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton
director
Sam Raimi
distributor
Paramount Pictures
author
Scott B. Smith
genre
Mystery and Thriller, Drama
We gave it an A

You might think that by the ninth Star Trek feature film, there isn’t a square centimeter left where someone hasn’t boldly gone before. You obviously haven’t been to the land of the Ba’ku, a race of 600 people who live simply and never require under-eye concealer: Their planet is bathed in an anomalous ”metaphasic radiation” that reverses aging, and even women over 300 years old can look as young as Diane Sawyer, or at least no older than Anij (Donna Murphy), a lovely Ba’kuvian who purrs to Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart): ”It’s been 300 years since I’ve seen a bald man.”

In Star Trek: Insurrection, directed by Jonathan Frakes (who also plays Commander Riker and, no doubt buzzed by metaphasic radiation, shaves his beard), Picard and his Enterprise cronies discover that an extremely wrinkly, dying civilization with a moisturizer-challenged leader (F. Murray Abraham) has plans to displace the Ba’ku and conquer their salutary environment. Worse, the Wrinkly Ones have wrangled approval from Starfleet’s Admiral Dougherty (Anthony Zerbe), who agrees in the name of progress. Picard thinks this is wrong. ”Where does it end?” he growls, and prepares to disobey a direct order.

That’s the moral nut of this highly unexceptional episode, a midlife production in which each Enterprise crew member does his or her vaudeville act. Data (Brent Spiner), kibitzing more and more like an android stand-up, explains that ”in the event of an emergency, I have been designed to serve as a flotation device.” Worf (Michael Dorn), hormones surging, sprouts a Day-Glo zit. Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) exchanges girl talk with Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden): ”Have you noticed how your boobs have started to firm up?” Picard breaks out in a mambo.

The battle scenes themselves march along with minimal effort, both on the part of the computer animators and the cast, whose knees, perhaps, have not absorbed enough special radiation to endure extended physical sequences. Bless them, I love their thickening life-forms. But perhaps the Enterprise crew might consider renting a Ba’ku condo and using it as a retreat to discuss just where they plan to fly from here. C

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