In Brief: It’s a kid’s movie that really isn’t. That doesn’t really matter because it’s also not very good.
I’m not sure of the target audience of Four Kids and It.
The movie is about four kids unexpectedly thrust together when their two single parents announce they’ve become an item. Smash is the oldest of her kids. She’s 13ish, angry at the world, thinks her mom is a total bozo. Naturally, she idolizes her absent father.
Ros is about the same age. She and her brother live with dad. Ros isn’t angry at all even though her mom took off to college to find herself. The bookwormish Ros still believes that any day she and dad will reunite.
So the vacation at the beach is a shock and the children blend together like oil and water.
While the kids are on the beach they meet Psammead. He’s an odd looking creature who lives in the sand. Psammead can grant one wish a day and the wish starts as soon as it is expressed but ends at sunset. The animal — or whatever “it” is — warns against making wishes. He says they never turn out quite like you expect.
And they don’t.
Added to the plot is the mystery of the creep who lives in a mansion above their cottage. He has plans for the kids. What isn’t a mystery to you is how it all ties to Psammead.
Back to the film’s target. Is it younger kids? Maybe. However, Psammead isn’t all that cute and cuddly, nor even that interesting. Worse, he’s not in the movie enough, nor is there enough slapstick humor to keep them interested.
A lot of the conversation and the working things out between Smash and Ros and their parents is fairly adult. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in communication with 12 and 13-year old girls so I’m not sure how they’d react to the material. My guess is they might relate to the girls but not to the plot. It is so poorly done that they’ll be as bored as me.
Outside of no real target, the film is also horribly written. At 1:50 it comes with long, dull chunks of dialogue that really add nothing to the movie. Cut about 20-minutes and it’s more palatable. The awful dialogue also doesn’t help the young actors in the cast. You often feel like they’re just saying lines to say them. In places it seems like director Andy De Emmony was in a huge hurry and had them toss off the line or lines quickly so he could get it done on time and on budget.
Toward the end of the film when De Emmony finally gets around to the real dilemma, you learn the kids love Psammead deeply. Really? They use the poor creature, he gives them what they want and they leave until the next day when they catch him again and force him to grant a wish.
Such love we can all do without.
As badly the screenplay is for the kids, it’s brutal on Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey) and Paula Patton (Warcraft) who play the two parents and Russell Brand (2011’s version of Arthur) who plays the mansion owner. Cardboard has a better personality and more to do than these gifted actors.
The only actor having any kind of fun is Michael Caine who gives voice to Psammead. He’s wasted in a movie packed with wasted opportunities to be a pretty good flick for kids.
For a movie about a magical creature, Four Kids and It has very little magic.
Director: Andy De Emmony
Stars: Teddie Malleson-Allen, Ashley Aufderheide, Matthew Goode, Michael Caine, Russell Brand, Ellie-Mae Siame, Billy Jenkins
Not a very good movie for smaller kids, not a very good movie for pre-teens, not a good movie for teens. Actually, just not a very good movie. Rate Four Kids and It a 1 on the Friday Flicks with Gary 0 to 5 scale.
You can find Four Kids and It on several streaming sources.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.