The Right Connections

Showtime's latest kidvid film "The Right Connections" falls flat on its formulaic posterior, thanks to co-exec producer Paul Bernbaum's script and director Chuck Vinson's uninspired helming. Only one who comes out glowing is rapper MC Hammer; otherwise, even for wee watchers, the telefilm's lifeless. Hard-working Gail Tompkins (Belinda Metz) wants to go back to college so she can get a better job and improve life for her four kids. Bumping into down-on-his-luck former rap star Kendrick Bragg (Hammer), the children get a shot at a local radio station's hip-hop contest and its $5,000 prize.

With:
MC Hammer, Belinda Metz, Elizabeth Hart, Brian Hart, Emily Hart, Alexandra Hart-Gilliams, Melissa Joan Hart, Scott Vickaryous, Meshach Taylor, Danielle Saklofsky, Bill Switzer, Chris Lovick, Chad Dormer, Jano Frandsen, JR Bourne, Biski Gugushe, Peter Kelamis, Ron Robinson, Benz Antoinee, Doron Bell, Tony Bailey, Carolyn Tweedle, Lucia Walters, Danny Wattley.

Eldest child Jamie (Elizabeth Hart), the only one with a singing voice, refuses to sing in public because of a once-disastrous experience; spirited Marnie (Emily Hart) and brother Chase (Brian Hart) are eager to win, and 3-year-old Kaila (Alexandra Hart-Gilliams) agrees to jump onstage.

Bragg decides for his own reason to help the family without the mother knowing. He coaches them, even gets his swell-guy manager (Meshach Taylor) in on the goings-on. (Scenes between Taylor and Hammer are painfully awkward.) Bragg also helps them with personal problems, including Jamie’s preoccupation with no-gooder Eric (Scott Vickaryous), who tries making her miss the show.

Will she show up? Or does unrehearsed cabby Melanie (Melissa Joan Hart of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” sister of all the Harts herein and best femme in this cast by a long shot) have to go on in her place? Could be, but the suspense is bearable.

Vidpic needs more vigor, more adventurous plotting, characters with more depth. Cast members are OK — Hammer and Melissa Joan Hart are above average — but director Vinson and writer Bernbaum have overlooked any family vitality that could have been there. Too bad, but, as showcased here, the Tompkins aren’t an interesting enough family to be the subject of a telefilm.

Tech credits are good.

The Right Connections

Fri. (15), 8-10 p.m., Showtime

Production: Filmed around Vancouver by Once and Future Films, Shaken Not Stirred Prods., Heartbreak Films Inc. and Viacom Prods. Exec producers, Paula Hart, Paul Bernbaum; producers, Mary Burch, Richard Davis; director, Chuck Vinson; writer, Bernbaum

Crew: camera, Richard Leiterman; editor, Christopher Ellis; production designer, Andrew Wilson; art director, Maya Ishiura; sound, William Butler; music, Michael Colombier; choreographer, Eddie Garcia; casting, Beth Klein, Carol Kelsay.

Cast: MC Hammer, Belinda Metz, Elizabeth Hart, Brian Hart, Emily Hart, Alexandra Hart-Gilliams, Melissa Joan Hart, Scott Vickaryous, Meshach Taylor, Danielle Saklofsky, Bill Switzer, Chris Lovick, Chad Dormer, Jano Frandsen, JR Bourne, Biski Gugushe, Peter Kelamis, Ron Robinson, Benz Antoinee, Doron Bell, Tony Bailey, Carolyn Tweedle, Lucia Walters, Danny Wattley.

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