A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Arthur and the Invisibles is a 2003 live-action animated film in which a boy must find his grandfather and also save his home from a greedy developer. It's based on a 2002 children's book Arthur and the Minimoys. There's some cartoonish action violence. After Arthur has been made tiny enough to find the ant-sized Minimoys, there are sword fights, battles with bad guys flying mosquitoes, and a car chase in which Arthur races a model car through tunnels to avoid an impending flood. The grandmother is drugged with sleeping drops so she doesn't catch Arthur sneaking out of the house. Some flirtation between Arthur and the princess.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Ten-year-old Arthur (Freddie Highmore) lives on a farm with his grandmother (Mia Farrow). Granny likes to tell stories about Arthur's grandfather, Archibald (Ron Crawford), who's lost in Africa, and she also worries that she'll lose their home to land developers. Arthur decides to help by following grandfather's clues, which supposedly lead to buried treasure. On his quest, Masai warriors shrink him to the size of the elves -- called Minimoys -- who live beneath Granny's lawn. He meets the Minimoys' princess, Selenia (voiced by Madonna). The malevolent Maltazard (David Bowie) wants to enslave the Minimoys, so Selenia's father (Robert De Niro) sends her, Arthur, and Selenia's brother, Bétamèche (Jimmy Fallon), to find the treasure, in hopes that it will pay off the villains.
Is it any good?
Frenzied and disconnected, ARTHUR AND THE INVISIBLES follows a human boy whose adventures lead him into a community of teeny-weeny, elflike creatures. The plot -- based on a series of children's books by director Luc Besson -- proceeds in a tizzy, cutting between above-ground scenes and below-ground scenes, though never quite establishing thematic or emotional links between the two realms.
Meanwhile, Bétamèche chatters on about nonsense and Highmore -- so charismatic as a live-action actor -- is here turned into a strangely punky figure with spiky white hair. Also distracting: the lackluster animation and the fact that the Masai seemingly come out of nowhere, simultaneously emblems of "mysterious Africa" and their own lack of context.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Arthur's underground adventure. Have you ever imagined changing your size or changing your body? How? What's appealing about the Minimoys?
This movie was based on a children's book. What would be the challenges in turning a book into a movie?
How did the violence in the action sequences compare to the violence in other animated features? Was the violence necessary to the story, or could the movie have done without it?
- In theaters: January 12, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: May 15, 2007
- Cast: Freddie Highmore, Madonna, Mia Farrow
- Director: Luc Besson
- Studio: Weinstein Co.
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Book Characters
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: fantasy action and brief suggestive material.
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