don't know, man. I just don't know what to think of movies like
The Spiderwick Chronicles, that are made in some Chinese
factory right alongside the action figures and lunchboxes. On
the one hand, I admire the machinery geared up to make it for
its cold efficiency. After all, if it weren't for Chinese factories
I would never have been able to afford a full-size jig saw for
the living room. On the other, it's sort of fucking sick to
think that our entertainment and someone else's art can be turned
into an interchangeable, commodified and bland pile of nothing.
thing: there's nothing wrong with The Spiderwick Chronicles.
It's well-made with what looks like a pretty fucking big budget.
There are special effects where they're supposed to be. There
are lots of thrilling ups and downs and huge battles with fantasy
creatures like goblins and ogres. It's got a portal to a fantasy
world that only kids can see through, and an adult who doesn't
believe them. And, it has little ones who suffer because of
the incompetence of adults.
It has all
the shit that some grassfucking lame-assed executive has on
his generic checklist of what every fantasy movie must have
in order to be a big fucking hit. In other words, what every
fantasy movie before it has had. Spiderwick Chronicles
doesn't try to do anything better than has already been done;
it just wants to put a new brand name on it.
Highmore, a lopsided-faced English kid, plays twins Jared and
Simon Grace. Jared is a loosey-goosey troublemaker. Or so we
are told repeatedly. The movie never has time to let him be
one. Simon is the straitlaced, bookworm one. Again, more told
than shown. They, along with their older sister and mother,
move into an inherited and creepy old country mansion (of course)
where things are a little strange. The previous tenant was shipped
off to a loony-bin, and left behind a shitload of honey, salt
and tomato sauce.
stories always go, the troublemaker finds a path into a secret
world. He also finds a pantload of trouble. This time, the fantasy
world is supposed to be all around us, we just can't see it.
Sort of like the profits in real estate those assholes on late-night
television talk about. If you look through a stone with a hole
in it, you can see pixies posing as flowers and goblins stirring
up leaves. You can also see the ogre that wants to get his hands
on the field guide to invisible creatures.
doesn't explain nearly enough to make a lot of the screen activity
make sense. There is an ogre hellbent on getting the book. The
movie keeps telling us that if he gets it, he will destroy everything,
both in the fantasy world and outside. What it doesn't tell
us is why or how. It just says the kids have to run around a
lot and scream and throw stuff. Also, the movie never explains
that while nobody can see invisible creatures without a magic
stone, everyone can hear them whether they want to or not. How
fucking anonymous can goblins and ogres be if they're always
squealing and grunting like the Harelip whenever the Tavern
gets a fresh jar of pickled eggs?
As in all
fantasy movies for kids, the adults onlybelieve once the situation
is dire. The kids save the day through ingenuity, pluck and
a tiny bit of luck, and then the adults apologize.
it hard to write a review for The Spiderwick Chronicles,
besides the 22 Pabst Blue Ribbons I just finished, is that it's
so damn hard to be excited or pissed about something so obvious.
The movie has a few odd moments. A piglike creature played by
Seth Rogen spits in people's eyes, and it's a favor. Tomato
sauce can be used to burn goblins, and I don't mean Kroger's
generic tomato sauce, which burns a hole in my ass. And Nick
Nolte plays the ogre, which is a daring choice for a kids' movie.
think of it, should any movie with Nick Nolte in it be rated
less than R? Would you want your kids to look at his crazed,
withered and horrid being? I'm sure that or the smallest children,
one gaze upon him may be fatal. And not mysteriously fatal like
that crib-thing baby shaking dads always blame. I mean, like
your kids' eyes bleed, his ears explode and his fingers just
fall off right there in the popcorn. One time late at night
I saw some reality show with him in it and it made me impotent
for three weeks. Fuckin' Nolte.
the point is, the critical bits of the movie are so fucking
tired they just pull of the highway and get a motel room. Divorced
parents means one kid is going to tell another he's the reason
for the split. A creepy house means something's in the attic.
And so on.
part I could really get all pissed off about is the appallingly
hokey where an old woman is reunited with her timeless father
and turned forever into her little girl again. Then they are
both whisked away by fairies. It has little do with the rest
of the movie, and it's so fucking schmaltzy it made me want
to puke. And that was before the Pabsts.
I have the
sense that the five Spiderwick novels that make up the source
material have a lot more cool stuff in them than makes it to
the screen. It's just that a shitload of detail has to get boiled
off to make one movie. Too bad, because all that's left is some
tired old bones. Two Fingers for The Spiderwick Chronicles.
to tell Filthy Something?