Four Kids and It

FOUR KIDS AND IT, UK, 2020. Starring Teddie- Rose Malleson, Ashley Aufderheide, Matthew Goode, Paula Patton, Billy Jenkins, Ellie- Mae Siame, Russell Brand, voice of Michael Caine. Directed by Andy de Emmonny. 110 miinutes.  Rated PG (Mild themes and violence)

Definitely a film for a younger audience. A question is how well will older children identify with the two girls at the centre of the story, Ros (Teddie - Rose Malleson and, British) and Samantha, known as Smash (Ashley Aufderheide, American). Smash comes across often as the wilful and spoilt brat. Ros can be disagreeable in a quietly British way. However, we know that by the end of the film they are going to be friends. The little brother and sister, Robbie, British, and Maudie, American, are much more agreeable.

Actually, the title will remind readers of children’s books and those who saw the 2005 film, Five Children and It, based on the E.Nesbitt story, will soon find that this is, quite simply, a variation on the original book. Four children this time, two parents, and the It, a rather playful small creature, who lives in the sand, swimming, burrowing, collecting all kinds of offerings and storing them in the sand, Psammead – and, for parents watching and listening, quite a surprise that, when Psammead speaks, it sounds like Michael Caine with all his voice and intonations. And it is.

The background of the film is that the British father, David, played by Matthew Goode, is looking after his children because his wife has left them to go to find herself in university life. For the American mother, Alice, Paula Patton, her husband has left her and has taken up life in the Seychelles. When both families arrive at the same destination, for a holiday in Cornwall, the two girls discover to their dismay that the parents have been seeing each other and that this is an experiment to see how well they get on.

The two girls don’t. However, down on the beach, Psammead makes itself known, stealing things, pulling them under the sand. However, he is a pleasant creature and his gift is to grant one wish per day, ending at sunset. Which means then for the delight of the children’s audience, there are the stories of the wishes, Robbie wishing he could climb a cliff and enjoying himself clambering over the rocks and the heights. Smash wishes she could be a rock star, the other children getting a helicopter ride to London, seeing her perform, the adulation of the crowd, and everything evaporating at sunset and the difficulty of getting back home. Maudie would like to fly and the children have a kind of Peter Pan experience. Ros, on the other hand, would like to go back into the past, so there is excursion to 1920.

Naturally, there has to be a villain. This time it is an eccentric in a local Manor, played by Russell Brand, in a very Russell Brand in-your-face kind of way. Ultimately, he has wishes as well – and, as we might expect, while he gets his wishes, they also end at sunset!

The children wish things could go back to what they were and that is the temptation of a wish. But, this is the kind of story that needs a happy ending – and the final wish is a generous one and all’s well that ends well.

(Jacqueline Wilson, the author of this book, has a cameo experience during the credits where she is amongst those lined up to get her book, written by Ros, to be signed by the author.)

Not sure whether the adult audiences will like this film is much as the children will.

Icon                                       Released September 17th

Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.

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