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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Victor Salva|
|Produced by||Roger Birnbaum
|Written by||Victor Salva|
|Starring||Sean Patrick Flanery
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Editing by||Dennis M. Hill|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Release dates||October 27, 1995|
|Running time||111 min.|
Powder is a 1995 American drama film written and directed by Victor Salva and starring Sean Patrick Flanery in the titlular role, with Jeff Goldblum, Mary Steenburgen, Bradford Tatum and Lance Henriksen in supporting roles. It is about Jeremy "Powder" Reed, who has an incredible intellect, as well as telepathy and paranormal powers. The film questions the limits of the human mind and body while also displaying society's capacity for cruelty, and raises hope that humanity will advance to a state of better understanding.
Jeremy "Powder" Reed is an albino young man who has incredible intellect and is able to sense the thoughts of the people around him. Jeremy's brain possesses a powerful electromagnetic charge, which causes electrical objects to function abnormally when he is around them, as well as when he becomes emotional. The electrical charge also prevents hair from growing on his body. Jeremy's mother was struck by lightning while pregnant with him; she died shortly after the strike, but Jeremy survived. His father disowned him shortly after his premature birth, and he was raised by his grandparents. Jeremy lived in the basement and worked on their farm but never left their property, learning everything he knew from books. He is taken from his home when his grandfather is found dead of natural causes. Jessie Caldwell (Mary Steenburgen), a child services psychologist called in by Sheriff Doug Barnum, takes him to a boy's home because he is now effectively a ward of the state.
Jessie enrolls him in high school, where Powder meets physics teacher Donald Ripley. Donald finds out that Powder has supernatural powers as well as the highest IQ in the history of mankind. While his abilities mark him as special, they also make him an outcast. On a hunting trip with his schoolmates, Powder is threatened with a gun by John Box (Bradford Tatum), an aggressive student who views him as a freak. Before John can fire, a gun goes off in the distance and everyone rushes to see that Harley Duncan, one of Doug's deputy who is hunting with the boys, has shot a doe, which is now dying. Anguished by the animal's death, Powder touches the deer and Harley, inducing in Harley what the students assume is a seizure. However, Harley admits to Doug that Powder had actually caused him to feel the pain and fear of the dying deer, and he cannot bring himself to take another life. Because of the experience, Harley removes all of his guns from his house although Doug allows him to remain as a sheriff's deputy without a sidearm.
Doug enlists Powder to help speak to his dying wife through telepathy. Through Powder, the sheriff learns that his wife clings onto life because she didn't want to leave without her wedding ring on her finger and without him reconciling with his estranged son, Steven. She tells him that Steven found the ring and it has been sitting in a silver box on her nightstand the entire time. Doug then places the ring on his wife's finger and reconciles with Steven, letting his wife die peacefully.
Powder meets Lindsey Kelloway, a romantic interest, but their relationship is broken by Lindsey's father. Before the interruption, he tells Lindsey that he can see the truth about people: that they are scared and feel disconnected from the rest of the world, but in truth are all connected to everything that exists. Powder goes back to the juvenile facility and packs away his belongings, planning to run away to his deceased grandparents' farm. He pauses in the gym to stare at a male student washing, noticing the latter's luxurious head of hair as well as body hair which he himself lacks, and is caught at it by John Box, who accuses him of homosexuality. John steals Jeremy's hat and taunts him, but Powder reveals that John's words mimic what his stepfather said before beating him when he was 12, further angering him. John and the other boys humiliate Powder, stripping him naked and taunting him. His powers begin to manifest by pulling at their metal buttons and any piercings. Eventually a large spherical electromagnetic pulse erupts throwing Jeremy in a mud puddle and everyone else to the ground. John is found still, with his heart stopped. Powder uses an electric shock to revive him.
In the final scene Powder returns to the farm where he grew up, now in probate with the bank, and finds that all of his possessions have been removed. He is joined by Jessie, Donald and Doug, who persuade Powder to come with them to find a place where he will not be feared and misunderstood. Instead, a thunderstorm arrives and he runs into a field where a lightning bolt strikes him, and he disappears in a blinding flash of light, possibly transcending earthly limitations and becoming pure energy as Donald alluded to in an earlier conversation.
- Sean Patrick Flanery as Jeremy 'Powder' Reed
- Mary Steenburgen as Jessie Caldwell
- Lance Henriksen as Sheriff Doug Barnum
- Jeff Goldblum as Donald Ripley
- Brandon Smith as Deputy Harley Duncan
- Bradford Tatum as John Box
- Susan Tyrrell as Maxine
- Melissa Lahlitah Crider as Lindsey Kelloway (as Missy Crider)
- Ray Wise as Dr. Aaron Stripler
- Esteban Powell as Mitch
- Reed Frerichs as Skye
- Chad Cox as Zane
- Joe Marchman as Brennan
- Phil Hayes as Greg Reed (as Phillip Maurice Hayes)
- Danette McMahon as Emma Barnum
- D. Wolski (body double, uncredited)
Powder received generally mixed reviews from critics. It currently holds a rating of 47% ("Rotten") on Rotten Tomatoes based on 19 reviews, as of May 2011. Caryn James of The New York Times described the film as "lethally dull" and said, "This intensely self-important film has no idea how absurd and unconvincing it is."
Since its release, the film has grossed approximately $31 million worldwide.
The film's production by Disney resulted in a controversy over the choice of director Victor Salva, who had been convicted of molesting a 12-year-old child actor in 1988. When Powder was released, the victim came forward again in an attempt to get others to boycott the film in protest at Disney's hiring Salva. Since then, Disney has not picked up any more pictures by Salva.
- Powder at the Internet Movie Database
- Powder at allmovie
- Powder at Rotten Tomatoes
- Powder at Box Office Mojo
- Powder at the TCM Movie Database