Sunday, January 14, 2007

Arthur and the Invisibles

This was one of those movies I knew was coming down the pipeline but really had not paid much attention to. I guess it had "kiddie flick" written all over its promotional copy so I had no real expectations for it.

Well yesterday I was out spending money and stopped at one of the local malls right after it started snowing. I was cold and hungry and decided to splurge on lunch, so I went to Johnny Rockets. :)

After lunch I meandered over to the mall's theater and saw that "Arthur and the Inivisibles" was just about to start. I didn't feel like getting back out into the cold and the snow again so I bought a ticket.

The only real miscasting in the whole movie, in my opinion, is Freddie Highmore as Arthur. Don't misunderstand me. I think he's a great Arthur. He performed admirably and the role suits him. I first saw Freddie in last year's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and I thought he did a good job there, too.

The problem is that he was the only person in the movie who spoke with a British accent. So either the entire cast was miscast or the lead was miscast. His accent sticks out like a sore thumb and it detracts from the movie's vintage 1950s-era mystique. How many American farm boys really sounded like they grew up in London?

I was surprised to see how many big stars (or once big stars) were involved in the movie: Mia Farrow, Robert de Niro, Madonna(!), and Emilio Estevez (to name most). I realize doing voices for animated films usually doesn't take a lot of an actor's time, but it's nice to see so many big screen stars involve themselves in productions where they have to rely mostly on their voices. That's craft and skill. It's part of the movie magic.

The special effects in the film were pretty good. The sets intermingled live action shots of an actual farmhouse setting with CGI. The transitions were almost seamless in a few scenes. Some of the transitions were a bit jarring but I think the movie mostly works.

It was a fun afternoon break and I'm glad I decided to see the movie on the spur of the moment. There have been way too few good, fun movies this fall and winter. I think Hollywood has dipped into the doldrums. Maybe they ran out of money for quality productions. I don't know, but it's almost been like a film drought this season.

I hope Freddie gets to make more fun movies before he moves on to the inevitable afterschool specials, sitcoms, and low-budget cameos. And I hope his film career doesn't mess him up. Child actors remind many people of what it's like to live in a world of imagination again, but they often pay a horrendous price in quality of life (and sometimes in brevity of life). Stay good, Freddie. Stay good.

I've also started a discussion of Arthur and the Invisibles at SF-Fandom's General Movies forum. Let me know what you think of the movie, either here or there.


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