The Spiderwick Chronicles

Rated 3.0

A woman (Mary-Louise Parker), her adolescent daughter (Sarah Bolger) and twin sons (both Freddie Highmore) move into an old family mansion, where one of the boys discovers a notebook by their long-dead great-great-uncle (David Strathairn in flashbacks) about a mysterious world of trolls, ogres and goblins lurking outside the house and just out of sight. The script by Karey Kirkpatrick, David Berenbaum and John Sayles (from the books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black) makes for a lively children’s adventure—a little too scary for small kids, perhaps—deftly directed by Mark Waters. Highmore (convincingly playing two characters) and Bolger carry the film with surprising ease, sharing the screen almost exclusively with CGI characters (Nick Nolte, Martin Short, Seth Rogen and others supply the voices).