Based on a well-known children’s novel of the same title. The film introduces us to two adults named David (Matthew Goode) & Alice (Paula Patton) and each of their two children. These two families meet up at a holiday cottage located on a beach in Cornwall where the two adults reveal to their children that a relationship has started between them and it is getting quite serious. The four children are not impressed when they hear the news and all four of them dislike the idea of their parents dating with the possible idea of new siblings too.
But while they all stay at the cottage, the four children discover a cave nearby which leads them to a private beach. On this beach, the children encounter something unlike anything they have ever seen before. They find a magical old creature who introduces himself as a Psammead (voiced by Michael Caine). This creature lives under the sand and has not been disturbed in over one hundred years. The Psammead has the power of granting the children one wish per day that will last until sunset.
While the children begin to have their dreams and desires fulfilled, a man by the name of Tristan Trent (Russell Brand) who lives in a mansion nearby has been trying to hunt the very same creature the children have just discovered. Tristan has large plans of his own once he gets his hands on the Psammead.
Talking about positives in this film, I truly enjoyed the performance of Russell Brand as the film’s mischievous villain. The actor has brought over 100% commitment to this role and his work alone is easily the best element to this film. Michael Caine’s voice work as the Psammead is also fun and pleasing. I enjoyed the film’s CGI work and the overall look of the Psammead, along with his movements, which were all excellent to see on the screen.
Four Kids and It is most certainly best suited for young children. But even as a children’s film, there are many ingredients which hold this film back from leaving a major and lasting impact when the end credits roll. Leading characters, including the main family we follow, are incredibly cheesy and at times have unlikable moments. I felt the actors were doing what they could with the material and script but how they have been used on screen only raised my eyebrows multiple times. Some cringe worthy moments, or things we have seen before, include parents who never seem to watch over their children while the kids have long adventures, characters obsessed with the lack of phone signal, one character continually failing to cook a proper a meal and cliche arguments amongst the child characters. Some scenes also overstay their welcome and some scenes have been edited in a very odd manner to the point that I felt some moments didn’t feel like a continuous shot as the director may have intended for viewers.
Overall, for some audience members, there are many elements that are pleasing, including the performance by Russell Brand and the perfect voice work from Michael Caine. While it is obvious this film is aimed at younger ages and the key themes are attempting to be heartfelt, the film does have some faults which hold it back from leaving a longer-lasting impact on movie lovers or fans of the novel.
Four Kids and It (2020) is Now Available in Brisbane Cinemas!
Four Kids and It (2020) is Available Nationally in Cinemas from September 24th
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Review Written by Peter Walkden