Four Kids and It = one winning family movie – Boston Herald



Rated PG. On Amazon Prime, VUDU, iTunes and other digital platforms.

Grade: B+

Based on the book by Jacqueline Wilson, Four Kids and It features Michael Caine as the voice of a computer-generated creature that may remind some of the rabbit that Alice follows down a hole in Alice in Wonderland. Also in the film are Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey) as divorced dad David caring for his two children, Rosalind aka Ros (Teddie Malleson-Allen) and Robbie (Billy Jenkins); and Paula Patton (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) as Alice, mother of angry teen Samantha aka Smash (Ashley Aufderheide) and her little sister Maudie (Ellie-Mae Siame). When Brit David and American Alice surprise their children by announcing their relationship and taking everyone unannounced to a blended holiday by the beach in Cornwall, the children are not having it.

Although they are both 13 years old, Smash, who is loud and hostile, wants nothing to do with Ros, and the feeling is mutual. Smash wants to be with her father, who is in the Seychelles. Ros, an aspiring novelist, wants her father to reconcile with her mother, who is a university student again and finding herself. Nine-year-old Robbie, for his part, only remembers long silences and emotional repression.

On a walk on the cliff overlooking the beach, Smash falls down a hole and discovers a tunnel. The other children follow and find themselves on a small, secluded beach, where something steals one of Maudies shoes.

That something is Psammead (the P is silent), a mythical sand creature, who lives under the beach, collecting offerings. Psammead can grant wishes. But he can only grant one wish per day and the wish only lasts until sunset.

Also on the scene is a fun Russell Brand as Lord Tristan Trent III, one of the local gentry, who lives in an enormous mansion with a magnificent view, as he is wont to remind everyone, and is obviously hunting for something on the cliffs and beaches of Cornwall none too successfully.

Four Kids and It, which was filmed in Ireland, is, for the most part, a lot of fun. Director Andy De Emmony of Red Dwarf fame knows a thing or two about making dialogue sparkle. The actors playing the children are quite good, and Goode and Patton have a nice, if not scintillating, chemistry.

Caine is a gifted comic actor as he has demonstrated many times, and his personality comes beaming through the digital CG costume. Floppy-eared E.T.-like Psammead even resembles Caine somewhat.

Scenes in which Smash wishes herself into a being a pop star for a day are impressively staged. A fight involving a backhoe is not well staged or smart, and jokes about Alices terrible cooking grow wearisome.

When a 19th century version of Trent grabs Ros phone and demands, What sorcery is this? I had to laugh. But what on earth is a sequence in which Trent turns into a James Bond villain all about?

Throw in the E.T. ending and, yes, that tacky, kiddie cinema-staple, a gag-worthy gaggle of hugs. Still, missteps notwithstanding, the kids, er, that is the children (and It) save the day.

(Four Kids and It contains fantasy violence and rude humor.)

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Four Kids and It = one winning family movie - Boston Herald

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