When wishes come true
FOUR KIDS AND IT (PG)
National release (except Victoria)
E (for Edith) Nesbit (1858-1924) was an English author of children’s books. One of her best known works, Five Children and It (1902) was the first of three in the Psammead series, and it became essential reading for children in the Edwardian era. In 2012, author Jacqueline Wilson published Four Children and It, a combination tribute to and contemporary reworking of Nesbit’s book, and now director Andy de Emmony has filmed Wilson’s book under the title Four Kids and It.
Alice (Paula Patton), an American, and David (Matthew Goode), a Brit, have separated from their partners and become a couple, something not yet accepted by their children, Smash (Ashley Aufderheide), a feisty girl, and Maudie (EllieMae Siame), who belong to Alice, and bookloving pre-teen Ros (Teddie-Rose MallesonAllen) and Robbie (Billy Jenkins), whose Dad is David.
The six get together for the first time when they rent a cottage by the sea in Cornwall and after the children get over their natural unhappiness with the new domestic arrangements and start to explore, they soon stumble on a hidden cove and encounter the Psammead.
In case you don’t know what a Psammead is, I can reveal that it’s a sand monster with a head a bit like that of ET, a somewhat ratty and shabby round body, and short legs. It speaks with the unmistakeable voice of Michael Caine, and when it gets excited or annoyed, its stomach expands like a balloon, which is scary to behold. However, it proves to be an amiable, creature.
Ros has read Nesbit’s book so she knows that the Psammead can grant wishes, though there are limits involved. Only one wish a day can be entertained, and the wish will end at sunset. One by one, the children try their luck, Robbie to be a rock climber, Smash to be a rock star (at a concert that concludes very abruptly, stranding the kids in London) and Ros to go back in time to meet the five children from the Nesbit book and to ask them if they know how to make the wishes permanent.
Observing all this is the evil Tristan Trent (Russell Brand, enjoying himself no end), a local landowner and a descendant of big game hunters whose ambition is to add the head of a Psammead to his trophy wall.
Scripted by Simon Lewis and Mark Oswin, Four Kids and It is a modestly attractive film for the entire family.
The wishes are granted in sometimes spectacular ways, the visual effects are clever, and there’s an underlying message about the importance of healing differences and accepting the things that can’t be changed. if deeply eccentric,
Ros, Smash, Maudie and Robbie in Four Kids and It