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Kenneth Branagh
Zoe Wanamaker
Freddie Highmore
Jonathan Bailey
Eddie Izzard.
John Stephenson.
David Solomons.
Running Time
89 minutes

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Man With A Movie Camera
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Five Children And It
'It' being a wish-granting sand fairy, voiced by none other than the fabulous Eddie Izzard.

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A quintet of kiddies find It - or the Psammead, as it prefers to be called - in a gravel pit. He grants them a wish a day that will last until sunset. But as we all know - and the children discover, magic wishes have their loopholes and pitfalls.

2004 was rather sparse on family films without big effects, so Five Children And It comes as a pleasant little oasis of calm.

Based on E. Nesbit's novel, it's slightly more self-aware than the early-'90s BBC series, which adapted the story of a group of wartime children who discover a mischievous, ancient sand fairy with Blyton-esque English eccentricity. Here, the sand fairy – Psammead – is rendered in CG and voiced by Eddie Izzard, who initially proves a strange fit.

He free-associates in his usual stand-up style and references modern-day objects, which sits awkwardly with the knickerbockered children. But once you adjust to the surreal combination, it evolves into a comfortably amusing yarn.

Yes indeed. A refreshing family film and once you're on the wavelength, Izzard is a treat.

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