The box-office success of The Magic Sword and Dr Dolittle proved there is a needy audience for family flicks. The hard thing to do is strike a balance between amusing the children and not giving the adults something that leaves them wanting to gouge out their eyeballs. Both those movies played to the kids, while The Real Howard Spitz plays to adults. And therein lies the problem. What tot will want to see a film where adults talk loads? What adult is going to see a film that's essentially a kiddie flick?
In the title role, Grammer repeats his Frasier persona, and his timing is perfect. There's no doubt he's a good comic actor and he's believably attractive (in a neurotic sort of way) to Donohoe's character. Shealso does a good job as the tough but soft-centred mother of Samantha.
Fine support is provided by Rutten as Spitz's publisher Lou, a `told you so' player of the finest tradition. The only weak link is the young Tessier, who doesn't make the transition from line-reading to a believable character. At times she's great, but at others her mind wanders off elsewhere.
But then so did the attention of the kids at the Total Film screening. One was so bored that he decided to pretend- machinegun all the adult characters to death when they wouldn't stop talking. And in a comedy aimed at kids, that just won't do.