Four Kids And It Review

Four Kids And It
Young teens Ros (Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen) and Smash (Ashley Aufderheide) are forced together on holiday after their respective parents (Matthew Goode and Paula Patton) begin dating. Along with their younger siblings, the girls find the Psammead (voiced by Michael Caine), an ancient creature who can grant one wish a day.

by Anna Smith |
Published on
Release Date:

03 Apr 2020

Original Title:

Four Kids And It

Stumbling upon a magical wish-granting creature is an appealing notion, as the enduring popularity of E. Nesbit’s Five Children And It showed. Jacqueline Wilson gave the story a fun modern spin in her 2012 tribute novel, Four Children And It, but this adaptation doesn’t quite capture the essence of either.

Perhaps trying to appeal to parents as well as kids, it spends too much time on adults who are sketchy stereotypes. There are a few early laughs courtesy of Matthew Goode’s divorced dad David, whose new relationship status is suddenly apparent in his music choices. But a miscast Paula Patton — the American girlfriend in question — is given little to do other than smooch him and cook badly. Meanwhile, the introduction of Russell Brand as a new character, eccentric landowner Tristan, results in tonal confusion. There’s potential humour in his verbose archaic ramblings, but the only funny ones feel like they were either written by or for him (stumbling across the amorous couple trying on tribal masks, he dismisses their display of “culturally insensitive erotica”).

By rights, the stars of the show should be the kids and the Psammead, the floppy, grumpy little monster who’s forced to give them wishes when they find him in the sand. And all have their moments when they get the chance. Voice actor Michael Caine strikes an appropriately vexed tone, and both young female leads — Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen and Ashley Aufderheide — put in likeable performances. There's also a timely warning of the perils of cooped-up, fame-hungry teens and their reliance on social media. But this story of a blended family lacks the emotive punch it's aiming for, and nods to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial just remind you of what you're missing.

The kids and Caine are good, but this lacks the magic of its source novel(s). Younger children may enjoy it, but its attempts to entertain older viewers mostly fall flat.
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