The Spiderwick Chronicles is a series of books, four of which I have read. They are kids books, but I tend to pick up quite a few kids’ books, some more mature than others. These books are cowritten by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. I have read all of Holly Black’s “modern faery” books from the teen section. Those books are pretty dark and quite mature. But Spiderwick is mostly for kids. What’s great about this movie adaptation, directed by Mark Waters, is that it too, is for kids. It doesn’t pretend to be all grown up. So it’s more of a fun romp type of flick.
Freddie Highmore plays the twins Jared and Simon Grace, who along with their Mom and big sister, move into an old house in a very rural area somewhere outside New York. Mom’s in the process of getting a divorce, and Jared is rather uptight about the whole thing. He lashes out a lot, and is the black sheep of the family.
But as soon as they move into the new house, he starts to see things and hear things, and soon enough discovers that 80 years prior, his great, great uncle, Arthur Spiderwick, had chronicled all the magical creatures that surrounded his home.
Highmore does a great job, as usual, and as a talented Brit, of course he can sound totally American. Very cool.
Sarah Bolger does a nice job as Mallory, the tough older sister, and Mary-Louise Parker is fine as the stressed and overwhelmed mom.
David Strathairn, one of the great character actors of our time, plays Spiderwick, and as usual he does a great job. The great Joan Plowright is also in the movie, and it was nice to see her again. Nice job.
The magical creatures are well voiced, even if their appearance was a little too CGI for my taste, but I admit I’m picky.
Thimbletack the Brownie is very nicely voiced by Martin Short, who will forever have a future as a voice over arist. Seth Rogen is very funny as Hogsqueal, a hobgoblin with a penchant for birds. And then there’s Nick Nolte. Hmmm. Well, his voice over was pretty cool…
Spiderwick Chronicles is a fun little flick. No big deal. Not life changing. But entertaining and fun. Kids will love it, and I think many adults will enjoy it, too.