Arthur and the Invisibles is a whimsical kid’s movie that blends live action with animation. It’s a story about a young boy (Freddie Highmore from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) with a vivid imagination left to live on a Connecticut farm with his grandmother (Mia Farrow) while his parents search for work in the big city. The boy passes his time reading his missing grandfather’s diaries and daydreaming about the older man’s adventures in deepest Africa with two tribes—one giant, one small, known as the Minimoys.
When an evil real estate developer tries to foreclose on his grandmother’s land Arthur hatches a plan to use his grandfather’s papers and maps to uncover treasure buried on the property. With just 48 hours before bulldozers raze the house Arthur follows his grandfather’s instructions, shrinks himself to microscopic size and enters the world of the Minimoys to search for the treasure.
Here the movie gains some steam. Insects are as big as airplanes and one Rastafarian Minimoy sounds an awful lot like Snoop Dogg. Arthur, now equipped with a shock of white hair that makes him look more like Billy Idol than a superhero falls for a princess voiced by Madonna, does battle with a bad guy whose name no one dares utter and finds out why his grandfather mysteriously disappeared.
While it’s a relief to find a computer-animated movie that isn’t about talking animals on a quest to get home / back to Africa or fractured fairy tales Arthur and the Invisibles only delivers up to a point. A little over-long at 2 hours, the movie is exciting during its chase and action scenes but borrows a little too heavily from familiar fare like The Wizard of Oz and even Honey, I Shrunk the Kids to feel completely fresh.
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