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The Beef takes a liking to SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES... that's either really creepy or a good sign for the movie!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. I missed this screening due to my Sundancing, but I'm happy to hear that it's shaping up to be a decent movie. I love Phil Tippett, but the trailers weren't doing much for me. I'll be happy if this is a fun fantasy film, which it appears to be. Here's THE BEEF with his thoughts:

Fellas, Thanks for the spur of the moment invite to the screening. Seriously, no joke. Writing about a children's film is a challenging task. Pointing out all of the nit-picky shortcomings in the film sort of make one seem too, adult. That's not to say a children's film shouldn't make complete sense, and shouldn't be acted reasonably well by its younger actors, but when you point to those things you put yourself out there to be writing about the parts of the film that the movie's target audience doesn't care about, at all. Ultimately, all that matters is whether or not the film is fun, and if it is then that's something that an adult will share with their kid. If the adult is having fun then more than likely the child is just as likely to have fun. That being said, despite some of the less than stellar opening, pre-fantasy takeover scenes this movie does generally deliver the fun. We enter the film with a tiny introduction to the world we're going to be a part of. It's a fantasy world inhabited by vast numbers of creatively imagined creatures, some good natured and some bad. A world of goblins, fairies, sprites, mini-hogs, and other countless fantastically conceived creatures. The person subjecting us to this world is Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn), the author of a book that details the many fantastic elements of this world that co-exists with our own. The danger that Mr. Spiderwick did not anticipate when he created the book is that should the knowledge of the different spells and charms used by the many good creatures to protect them from the bad fall into the hands of the almighty ogre Mulgrath (Nick Nolte), Mulgrath would then have the power to annihilate all creatures of that world, and ours, with nothing capable of stopping him. Arthur Spiderwick, realizing the importance of keeping the book hidden and protected from Mulgrath, put a protective spell around his house, and hid the book to be kept safe from all of the evil forces after the information that it contains. 80 years later the Grace family, distant relatives of Arthur Spiderwick, move in to the old house after fleeing their home in New York. The family consists of the mother Helen Grace (Mary-Louise Parker), Mallory (Sarah Bolger), and twin brothers Jared and Simon (both played by Freddie Highmore). It's made immediately apparent that Jared is a problem child, and is having issues coping with something that appears to have put the family on emotionally hard times. Jared's overly-curious, and rebelious nature lead to him finding the book, and reopening all of the dangers that Arthur Spiderwick tried desperately to shield the world from. The next few days prove to then be a venture into this parallel world that exists right outside the Grace front door, and the Grace family becomes acquainted to the dangerous goblins seeking the book that they now possess. The major weak point of the movie comes at the expense of our main characters, but luckily it doesn't last long. The chemistry between the siblings is awkward, similar to that of how step-brothers and sisters would act, and it takes a while to get over Freddie Highmore playing two kids that are polar opposites. When he's on screen as just one of the brothers he does fine. It's when he's split-screening and trying to act as both boys speaking to each other that his line delivery is a bit to be desired. Thankfully, these gawky moments are found only during the first moments of the film when we're introduced to the family. When the action begins then it just becomes a matter of reaction by the actors, and that's where the kids begin to flourish and the movie really takes off. When we begin to start dealing with the different inhabitants of the fantasy world the movie gets infinitely more interesting than the family drama that we have to sit through initially, and definitely more entertaining. The friendly creatures that try and help the kids on their mission (voiced by Martin Short and Seth Rogen) add some great comical moments and really become the highlight of the movie, despite the wonderful work by the more experienced actors, especially Mary-Louise Parker as the emotionally-stressed mother. The voice work by Rogen and Short blend quite nicely with the animation work on their respective creatures, and the animation itself is as good as anything you'd find from the recent children-adventure films. That animation work also applies to the frog-like goblins that are after the book, and the eventual entrance of the all-powerful ogre Mulgrath, who the very young audience members might find a little too frightening to continue watching. He's an intimidating figure when in his natural form, and arguably just as frightening in his human form because he's played by Nick Nolte. However, even though the colorful creatures are the highlight and the contributions of the older actors are excellent, the real gem of the group is Sarah Bolger as Mallorie. Those unfamiliar with Bolger's name may recognize her as the oldest daughter from the wonderful Jim Sheridan drama IN AMERICA, where she put in a performance beyond her years. In this film it's apparent that she's certainly capable of being part of the uncommon breed of actors that can fulfill the promise they showed to the world as a young child. She's remained comfortable in front of the camera, and appears to have a gift for portraying the mature older sibling. It could be because she actually is a mature older sibling. Stated earlier, though, none of this matters. The only thing kids care about is whether or not they'll have a good time. They will. When the adventure begins the movie continues to get more and more thrilling, and the family drama even begins to get stronger. The only thing adults will care about is whether or not they'll regret having to labor through this while their kids have a good time. They won't. It's definitely not the greatest thing an adult is going to see, but the humor is present, the acting is better than most children's movies, the story is interesting even though some of the plot points are kind of stretched and borrowed from other films, the fantasy elements are imaginative, and again the thrills are aplenty when things get moving. Essentially, kids will go ga-ga if they're not easily frightened, this does have Nick Nolte in it after all, and the parents will leave satisfied that they didn't waste eight dollars on their own ticket. Thanks again, The Beef

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