Cert – PG, Run-time – 1 hour 49 minutes, Director – Andy De Emmony
When a couple (Paula Patton and Matthew Goode) decide to go on holiday to introduce each others children to each other the kids discover a magical creature (Michael Caine) in the sand that proceeds to grant them various wishes.
Back in 2004 E Nesbit’s novel Five Children And It received a mixed, yet somewhat sub-par, when it was adapted for the big screen. Now, it’s the turn of Jacqueline Wilson’s sort of sequel to get the film treatment. Instead of a quaint countryside setting to observe and play around in with no technology in sight this modern take shows a world of phones, internet celebrities, pop music and frequent use of the Nintendo Switch. However, central protagonist Ros (Teddie Malleson-Allen) relies on books to keep her occupied, her dream is to be an author. The only other dream she seems to have is to reunite her separated parents – an idea pushed further by the people she finds herself surrounded by.
It’s the meeting that Ros and her brother have with the children of her father’s (Matthew Goode) girlfriend (Paula Patton) that begins to bring more stress and worry to her life, something which seems to be reciprocated by her opposite, Maudie (Ashley Aufderheide). As is to be expected the children don’t get on, something which only goes lightly noticed by their parents, who are too busy trying to get it off to notice anything else. Thus allowing the minors to go unoccupied to the beach where they discover a pale, hairy, easily disgruntled sand troll (somehow voiced by Michael Caine). The sand troll – who looks very much like E.T. took a tragically rough turn after leaving Elliott – reveals to the children that he can grant them any wish they want. And of course they use their wishes for their own good, despite a joke about world peace – “finally!” proclaims the creature as he begins to cast the wish before being stopped so that the children can have their real wish.
As the group begin to bond and get to know each other more Ros’ aims are still based around her own personal family life – trying to contact her Mum, who’s apparently at university, in the hope that she can get her to just meet her Dad, despite the fact that such attempts never quite work. As the storyline trundles along these tracks everything seems rather formulaic. Despite the possibilities that the film could have with the titular creature that the plot relies on there’s not a great deal done to break any barriers within Sky Cinema’s latest offering. Everything simply falls rather flat, bordering on being episodic with limp idea after limp idea. Leading to a slow feature that will likely, as has been the case with most Sky Cinema features so far, be quickly forgotten and pass to the back of the catalogue of films available on the service.
Amongst everything that’s going on the film even manages to throw Russel Brand in as antagonistic figure Tristan Trent. The owner of a grand house near to where the two families are staying. For many years he’s been aiming to find the wish granting creature to use it for his own personal gain – somehow his wish to be rich is wrong, but the children can easily wish for fame and attention. Brand’s performance certainly isn’t the hammiest of the film – and some might view him as what Jim Carrey was to Sonic The Hedgehog, while others might simply see him as just another performance in the film, in a number of ways it could simply come down to how you view Russell Brand. However, for the most part, almost every single performance is rather overdone, as if each cast member, including Caine, is just waiting for the paycheck so that they can jump into their next project – almost as if director Andy De Emmony – whose previous experience heavily lies in TV comedies such as Red Dwarf, Spitting Image and Father Ted; potentially explaining the slightly jumpy and episodic nature that the film has – and also wanted to get things in the can quickly so that he could move on himself.
There’s certainly a lot missing from Four Kids And It, including a fair deal of charm, wit and heart – meaning that the humour lacks, although most of the humour seems to rely on Patton and Goode’s adult characters never getting a moment of privacy so that they can fulfil their own ‘wishes’. And with a story that never truly comes together it simply falls, feeling rather basic and uninspired. It’s certainly not the film that’ll help to pass the time during lockdown and self-isolation – especially with the family.
The only thing that doesn’t quite feel underdone about Four Kids And It are the handful of overdone performances that lie throughout it. This is a rather lacking and uninspired feature. Despite the fantasy nature and potential, nothing is ever truly lived up to, leaving this feeling rather dull and in the end it falls flat.