The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb Review

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With equal helpings of fairytales and reality, Tom Thumb is no sooner born as he is kidnapped by scientists who want to experiment on him. Once in the lab, he meets several other fairytale folk and begins to hatch a plan on how to escape and find his way back home.


In a dark tenement house, a woman gives birth to a tiny baby. After his father has named him Tom Thumb, sinister government agents turn up in raincoats to abduct the child for experimentation. Tom survives life in an automated laboratory and escapes into a fantasy world behind the walls where fairytale creatures dwell. Torn falls in with Jack the Giant Killer, the little people's hero, and they return to reality where Tom is reunited with his father to continue his battle with the evil forces who tampered with his life.

Despite a whiff of Eraserhead and occasional animated touches reminiscent of the Brothers Quay, Dave Borthwick's first feature is an entirely original hour-long masterpiece. The technique is unprecedented and fiendishly difficult, mixing stop-frame models with live actors willing to be posed frame by frame as if they themselves were puppets. The interaction between the creatures and strange-looking humans allows for weird currents of meaning and an emotional resonance that makes this the most moving animated feature for years.

Drawing on classical characters and bleakly reimagining its fairytale settings, this has its roots in age-old children's stories, but a downbeat modern milieu and touches of genuine horror make it a risky prospect as a kids' film. Innovative, powerful, exciting and deeply affecting, this is one of the best and most unusual British movies in a very long time.

This promising modern take on the old fairytale of a miniature boy born to ordinary parents doesn't disappoint, cleverly cutting itself short at only one hour, leaving you wanting more. The story entertains while the effects are sufficient enough to keep you amused in what has turned from being a old-fashioned fairy tale to a modern day horror story.