The Spiderwick Chronicles

Rated 3.0

A charmingly fresh take on a stale idea, The Spiderwick Chronicles is another family film (albeit perhaps The Addams Family) that casually enters Lemony Snicket territory but has the witheral to establish its own identity. Here we have yet another set of city kids heading off to the familial rendez vous and set down in a remote old dark house, where this time they stumble across the field guide to an enchanted back yard that sets them off on an adventure involving all sorts of phantasmagorical creatures and perils. As children’s films go, this one is refreshingly short on idiocy and long on message for the kids. Things keep moving at a sustained clip, with lots of CGI eye candy on display. For the thrill of watching a young actor starting to come into his own, Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland) in a dual role is a revelation. Better yet, it’s not a chore for the guardians in attendance to sit through.