July 7, 2005                                         


Step inside this magical world July 7, 2005
By NANCY CHURNIN / The Dallas Morning News

What is it with British writers and unexpected doors that lead to fantastic worlds? At the end of the rabbit hole, a little door leads Alice to Wonderland. The door of an old wardrobe leads four children to Narnia in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. And in 5 Children & It, an adaptation of the Edith Nesbit novel now available on DVD, five English siblings discover a door in a forbidden greenhouse inside their eccentric uncle's castle.

The door leads to a beach where they discover a creature they call It. They return to find replicas of themselves doing the long list of chores that their uncle has assigned them. And they realize they had wished for something just like that to happen. Which is how they discover that It (a Jim Henson's Creature Shop creation voiced by Eddie Izzard) grants wishes.

It's all the more fascinating for being unfamiliar – Ms. Nesbit has yet to get the attention she deserves from American kids. And it doesn't hurt to have such a classy cast. Finding Neverland star Freddie Highmore, about to take over as Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory next Friday, is the narrator and most inquisitive of the siblings. Kenneth Branagh, whom the kids should recognize as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, plays the eccentric, math-obsessed uncle. Zoë Wanamaker, Madame Hooch in the Harry Potter movies, is the maid who has a bad habit of losing days of the week and, occasionally, entire months. She's trying to figure out what happened to the month of October when the children arrive.

There are no extras. You can wish for them as the children in the story might. But you may learn, as they do, that wishes don't always turn out as expected.

October 25                                         


Breaking rules, as all children should, five siblings stumble upon a secret passage and, at its end, uncover a mysterious sand-fairy, The Psammead. A series of wild adventures follow as "It" grants their wishes. Dodgy CG and dodgier acting can't touch a classic story.

As a child, I used to relish E Nesbit's foray into the world of the Psammead, lapping up the idea of a sand fairy that could grant wishes with great enthusiasm. Presumably due to the inevitable growing-up ritual, the stories left my mind and I was decidedly unfamiliar with them when I heard news of a film version.

So, perhaps, it's rather relevant that during one of the sappier scenes involving the Eddie Izzard voiced Psammead, he muses that as you grow older, you forget the adventures of youth and the magic eventually dies.

As I sat down to watch Five Children and It, not realising I'd read the book all those years ago, a long-forgotten feeling swept over me. The realisation was slow in coming, this is a fair departure from Nesbit's original, but come it did and it wasn't long before I was relishing the world of the stories as I once had.

I'm not sure of an adaptation that's ever had the power to effect me in such a similar way before. Perhaps it's because I'd forgotten the original story as I went in, but watching Five Children and It felt exactly the same as reading the book as a child.

And it's the story that makes Five Children and It successful. As a film, it has its share of issues. This version has none of the production value we've come to expect from children's fantasy films such as Harry Potter, which is a shame - combine such a fantastic story with that sort of production and you're on to a real winner. Here, the effects look cheap and unfinished. Such effort goes into work on the only successful effect, It, that not enough is saved for the many other shots in the movie.

Then again, mess up It and you mess up the whole film. Fortunately, this is not a mistake director John Stephenson makes. With the Henson name behind the creature work on It, we're treated to a passable mix of live-action puppetry and CG to create a truly memorable little sand fairy. When you add the voice of Eddie Izzard who's given free reign to improvise, It becomes a truly memorable virtual actor whose personality is second to none.

As far as acting goes, however, Izzard's virtual performance is the only really memorable turn in the film. Kenneth Branagh's eccentric Uncle Albert (not of Only Fools and Horses fame) becomes quickly tiresome - this could be the worst performance of his career. Uncle Albert isn't Lockheart Part II, but Branagh seems unwilling to acknowledge this, delving into his own world to create a character none of us particularly want to watch.

Likewise, the young cast aren't perfect. As Cyril, the eldest of the group, Jonathan Bailey grates from time to time, and the rest of the children betray the inexperience of their age. Nevertheless, they do their best and can't be faulted for that.

In fact, the only cast member worth mentioning (aside from Izzard, of course) is Zoë Wannamaker, who plays the role of the mysterious housekeeper with the style and experience we've come to expect from her. Wannamaker is a truly wonderful actress, often under sung, and here she's on top form.

Ultimately, regardless of any problems with effects and cast, Five Children and It is a beautifully classic story told here with respect and honesty. That this film won't get the exposure reserved for the Harry Potter franchise is rather disappointing. By her own admission, Rowling drew much of her inspiration from the stories of E Nesbit and this film is just as rich in storytelling as anything from the Potter camp. Live this up, a wholesome family film this delightful doesn't come by very often.

October 22                                         

Links to various short reviews (thanks Juli):

October 21                                         


Two out of Five stars

Comedians seem to relish voice characterisation, allowing their imaginations to run wild, Shrek's Donkey and Aladdin's Genie being particular standouts. It's good to note that Eddie Izzard will likely get more microphone work after Five Children And It, a film adapted from the overly-beloved children's writer E. Nesbit. His It is a delight, openly providing colour and life to each of his scenes. Cranky, charming and anarchic. More, please... just in a better movie.

The It, named Psammead, is a strange creature, best described as a cross between a fairy and a small dinosaur. It's a Jim Henson studio creation, ugly but expressive and earthily magical. His purpose in the plot is to grant wishes to five children who discover him, just one wish a day and then the magic wears off as the sun sets. So, the children begin wishing for outlandishly fun things and the film begins with various ways of taking the magic out of the genie's bottle. Alas, the fantasy soon wears thin, given the cheese-ridden presentation of the film's moral story.

The cast aquit themselves reasonably well. Kenneth Branagh, as dotty uncle Albert, looks like he's sleepwalking for a pay cheque and the youngsters look coached and unnatural. Even Freddie Highmore, as Robert, doesn't drive the film as well as he could. He's earnest enough, but the performance just doesn't command attention.

Five Children And It is an embarrassingly underwhelming British children's fairy-tale. There's a touch of charm, but the cliched storytelling lacks that vital spark to send it soaring above the obligatory half-term movies. Best avoided, really.

October 17                                         


Three out of Five stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 BOSTON FANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL: Five Children and It is a small movie, about eighty-five kid-friendly minutes enlivened by an eccentric Kenneth Branagh and some nifty work from the Henson workshop. It's not as grandiose as the Harry Potter movies, for instance, but has its charms.

The five children of the title are Cyril, Robert, Anthea, Jane, and Lamb, who are packed off during the summer of 1917 to stay with their uncle in the country as London is evacuated and their parents go to France to serve as a pilot and a nurse. The uncle, of course, has a perfectly horrid son of his own (Horace) and a sprawling house governed by arbitrary rules, including never going into the greenhouse. Middle child Robert, of course, breaks this rule immediately, discovering a secret passageway to a beach where it's not raining and a sand fairy can be found. This sprite can grant wishes, but they only last the day and, of course, have a tendency to go wrong.

It's a mark of how good effects techniques have gotten that the only way to guess when "It" is a puppet and when it is CGI is by what It is doing. Running down the beach - probably CGI. Sitting in its shell talking to the kids - probably the work of Henson's Creature Shop (the movie is produced by Jim Henson Productions). The purple creature resembles vaguely Rygel from Farscape and is voiced by comedian Eddie Izzard, not normally a guy associated with family entertainment but who seems to be having a great time here.

The other adults of note are Zoe Wannamaker as Uncle Albert's assistant, who clearly knows about It (though she never says so) and helps the siblings cover when things go awry, and Kenneth Branagh as Albert himself. Branagh is actually a great fit for children's movies (he was the best part of Harry Potter 2); they let him indulge his tendency to play to the balconies a bit but also places boundaries on it. Here, he's cast in the role of "caring but distracted adult caretaker", the one who is present but busy enough to allow the kids a great deal of autonomy. He's a math professor, at work on a textbook called "Difficult Sums for Small Children", and his scatterbrained comments are almost always good for a laugh.

The child actors are, generally, pretty good. With six kids and less than ninety minutes, most are sketched in broad strokes - Lamb is a toddler, Jane plays the violin badly, Althea devours pulp novels, Cyril is the responsible eldest child (at 13), and Horace is a weird kid with his own basement laboratory. Robert, the film's narrator, is the lead, a rather selfish troublemaker who idolizes his pilot father and chafes at the idea of Cyril being in charge.

I gather that a great deal of E. Nesbit's novel was cut; comments behind me indicated that the children had many more adventures in the book, with the only one making it to the screen relatively intact was the "flying" story. This would explain why the passage of time feels off; counting the wishes would indicate the story taking place over just a few days, but the events would seem to dictate a longer period. The effects work is fine enough, with It looking good when he has to be mobile and a decent-looking monster in the last act. My only complaint would be the sequence where the children have wings; though rendered well, they don't really look like they would support the kids' weight.

Not that such things will cause much concern to the movie's pre-teen audience; they'll see a movie with at least one character they can identify with, a funny animatronic character, and adult characters who are either funny or sources of unconditional love. And, really, what more should a kid want from a movie? The adults in the audience will likely be amused enough to enjoy watching it with their kids, even if it's not as truly all-ages a movie as something like Babe or Toy Story. Jay Seaver

October 16                                         

[View London]

Three out of Five stars

Average children's drama that's enlivened by Izzard's vocal performance but still feels as if it really ought to be a TV movie.

Five Children And It is based on the novel by E. Nesbit, who also wrote childrens' classics The Phoenix and the Carpet and The Railway Children. In fact, Five Children And It was made into a childrens' TV serial as recently as the early 1990s - its episodic structure is clearly more suited to the serial format, which might explain why the film frequently feels as if it really ought to be on TV instead.

With their father away at war and their mother (Tara Fitzgerald) working as a nurse, five children from London (including Jonathan Bailey, Jessica Claridge and Freddie Highmore) are sent to live with their eccentric Uncle (Kenneth Branagh) in his run-down mansion by the sea. Creeped out by Uncle's junior-mad-scientist son, Horace (Alexander Pownall), the children explore the house and find a secret passage to the beach, where they discover a whiskery blue creature that turns out to be an 8000 year old sand fairy (voiced by Eddie Izzard and animated by Jim Henson's Creature Shop).

The sand fairy promises to grant the children one wish per day, lasting until sunset. However, he doesn't really like children all that much and mischievously ensures that the wishes all backfire in unexpected ways, leading to a series of madcap adventures involving wings, dinosaurs, clones and cars.

The effects are rather clunky and the CGI work frequently looks unfinished and disappointing. That said, whoever took the decision to use Henson's Creature Shop (and therefore An Actual Puppet) for 'It' deserves a round of very big drinks, because it works perfectly.

The acting is something of a mixed bag, although Freddie Highmore (soon to be a major child star after an astonishing performance in the upcoming Finding Neverland) stands out as Robert. Branagh is also good, though you frequently suspect that he's doing a sneaky impression of Jim Broadbent.

Given the abysmal nature of his recent 'real-life' performances, it comes of something of a surprise to be able to say that Eddie Izzard is the best thing about Five Children And It - ironically, his character is probably about as close to his free-associating stand-up persona as it's possible to be. Consequently, 'It's' comic asides ("Have your parents tried boiling you?") provide the film with its biggest laughs.

To sum up, Five Children And It isn't a brilliant film, but it's oddly comforting nonetheless, possibly because it invariably conjures up memories of watching children's television. As a result, it deserves to find a suitable audience, though Izzard's delightful performance at least ensures a measure of adult appeal too. Worth seeing, but not quite as good as it should have been. Matthew Turner

October 15                                         

[This is Local London]

ANYONE steeped in British tradition - and I count myself in this noblest of pursuits - has been touched or inspired by Blyton or Nesbitt's awfully big adventures, family values and the occasional fat boy.

But what these authors do well is focus in on the wonders of youth and the eternal mantra of there's no place like home'.

In Five Children and It, director John Stephenson takes E Nesbitt's novel and serves up a lavish, patchy film that's about as taxing as tucking into a cream cake on a beach.

It's set during the First World War as five children are carted off to the Isle of Man to their uncle's home while their father fights the enemy.

But their uncle Albert, played by Kenneth Branagh, and his son Horace, are a gruesome twosome of the cranky variety and lead the kids into all sorts of scrapes.

The five kids then happen to stumble upon a sand fairy, voiced by Eddie Izzard, who tells them they can wish for anything.

But when the nasty Horace finds out about what the kids are up to, their amazing secret is under threat.

One of the big reliefs in Five Children and It, is that once the kids go to their big uncle's house, the whole film isn't bogged down in interiors and shot solely in the house they're inhabiting.

In the likes of Haunted Mansion, and other appalling examples, the house becomes a base for utter boredom and the film becomes visually unexciting.

But here, at least, we get out a little into the sand and the beach and the film is better for it.

Yet that isn't enough to completely save the film from feeling like a bit like a relic - and that's not because Norman Wisdom is in it. The old timer has a neat little cameo which nearly brought the house down and he did more in those seconds that Kenneth Branagh does in the whole film.

Branagh's pomposity is deflated by the poor lines he has to deliver. He seems really up for this performance but there's no substance, and that's a shame for such a fine actor.

But the film does have its highlights. The sand fairy, who sounds like a cross between Frank Muir and Leslie Phillips, brings the picture alive as the children gather around it to hear his pearls of wisdom.

Also the face-off between the children and Horace forms one of the more engaging battles of the film. Horace is a wonderfully evil creation as pits his wits against the stealthy kids.

But ultimately the land of E Nesbitt has now been well and truly trumped by the likes of Harry Potter. It's hard to see how this will appeal to kids as much as adults yearning for ye olde England that they once knew and loved.

The sand fairy is too statuesque and limited and is the epitome of a world which valued foundations, family and stability. Today's fantasy is fluid, worldly and boundary-crossing and this film lacks those ingredients.

Five Children and It is a safe, solid kids film which may only appeal to under eights and adults who need to reaffirm the appeal of Queen and country.

For the rest of us, it's nice and sweet like a Mr Kipling but it's more Rudyard than exceedingly good.

October 14                                         

[Edinburgh News]

BE careful what you wish for, you might just get it. Hands up all those who had their fingers crossed for a big-screen version of E Nesbit’s old-fashioned little fable with Eddie Izzard as the voice of the titular sand-fairy? Ah, thought not. It’s 1917 and five children are packed off to stay with their eccentric Uncle Albert and Aunt Martha (Kenneth Branagh and Zoe Wanamaker both slumming it) at their tumbledown mansion by the sea. Their father is doing his bit as a fighter pilot in WWI while their mother is played by the curiously distant Tara Fitzgerald. While exploring the beach they dig up an irascible CGI’d Psammead (Izzard) who grants them a wish a day - that lasts until sunset. Things go wrong - natch - but not quite as badly wrong as the film itself. Since the children’s dearest wish is for pater to come home safely you have to wonder why they don’t ask the sand fairy for this from the start rather than indulging in various childish whims and making obvious mistakes. As a result your patience becomes quickly stretched. Branagh and Wanamaker are both fine as the dotty old relatives and the children are perfectly personable but Izzard is a real irritant.

A lovely adaptation of the children's classic by E Nesbit, in which five evacuees living with their eccentric uncle discover a magic wish-granting creature in a hidden seaside cove. As their demands grow more ambitious – from help with the housework, to unlimited wealth, to the safe return of their father from the front – the children learn the dangers inherent in getting everything you wish for. The story calls for a somewhat unwieldy blend of playful fantasy and wistful yearning for absent parents; but this challenge is confidently met, largely thanks to excellent performances by the child actors (especially the phenomenal Freddie Highmore, who will next be seen playing the lead in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). An extra dash of comic energy is provided by Eddie Izzard, who voices the mysterious Psammead with his customary freewheeling inventiveness. The plot does sprawl somewhat, and certain excesses – such as the children intervening in the progress of the war – should have been excised. Another bugbear is the musical score, which, with its incessant use of plinky-plonky piano, big strings and choral swellings to evoke a magical atmosphere, is simply too big for the film. On the whole, though, a satisfying holiday treat for imaginative children and nostalgic grown-ups alike. Dir: John Stephenson With: Kenneth Branagh, Zoë Wanamaker, Freddie Highmore, Jonathan Bailey, Tara Fitzgerald, Eddie Izzard (voice) A lovely adaptation of the children's classic by E Nesbit, in which five evacuees living with their eccentric uncle discover a magic wish-granting creature in a hidden seaside cove. As their demands grow more ambitious – from help with the housework, to unlimited wealth, to the safe return of their father from the front – the children learn the dangers inherent in getting everything you wish for. The story calls for a somewhat unwieldy blend of playful fantasy and wistful yearning for absent parents; but this challenge is confidently met, largely thanks to excellent performances by the child actors (especially the phenomenal Freddie Highmore, who will next be seen playing the lead in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). An extra dash of comic energy is provided by Eddie Izzard, who voices the mysterious Psammead with his customary freewheeling inventiveness. The plot does sprawl somewhat, and certain excesses – such as the children intervening in the progress of the war – should have been excised. Another bugbear is the musical score, which, with its incessant use of plinky-plonky piano, big strings and choral swellings to evoke a magical atmosphere, is simply too big for the film. On the whole, though, a satisfying holiday treat for imaginative children and nostalgic grown-ups alike. Hannah McGill

October 10, 2004                                         

[Sunday Herald]

Five Children and It

Like a cross between Enid Blyton and Bedknobs And Broomsticks, John Stephenson’s version of E Nesbit’s 1902 novel is a quaint but satisfying film to wash away those half-term blues. The ‘It’ in question is a Sand Fairy, discovered by five London evacuees during wartime, sent to live with their eccentric Uncle Albert (Kenneth Branagh) in his rundown seaside mansion. Animated by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and voiced by Eddie Izzard (who semi-improvises his lines to great effect ), the creature grants the children one wish a day. Soon the kids are re-animating dinosaurs, sprouting wings to fly to France (where they hope to find their missing-in-action father) and, with a nod to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, getting the housework done. While the special effects look cheap and cheerful at times, the emotional core of the film is convincing. Branagh, in particular, provides the right balance between plain old dottiness and genuine pathos . T he result is a kids’ movie that, for once, doesn’t patronise its audience. Mark Graham

October 5, 2004                                         

[Empire Magazine]

This year has been particularly 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.

Any good? Yes indeed. A refreshing family film and once you're on the wavelength, Izzard is a treat. [3 out of 5 stars]

October 5, 2004                                         

[BBC Films]

Reviewed by Neil Smith
Updated 30 September 2004
Contains scary moments

Only the most undemanding tot will tolerate Five Children And It, a suffocatingly twee and unrelentingly tiresome adaptation of the 1902 novel by Railway Children author E Nesbit. With wooden child actors playing second fiddle to an unlovely creation of Jim Henson's Creature Shop, it's sure to be more punishment than pleasure for half-term audiences. The sole bright spot on a lacklustre canvas is comedian Eddie Izzard, whose semi-improvised contributions as 'It', the film's 8000-year-old, wish-granting fairy, recall the inspired lunacy of Robin Williams' genie in Aladdin.

Updating the action to WWII England, director John Stephenson brings an element of Bedknobs And Broomsticks to Nesbit's gentle yarn, with Izzard's dino-like Psammead, or sand fairy, filling in for Angela Lansbury's witch. Stumbled upon on a secret beach by five London evacuees, sent to live with their dotty uncle (Kenneth Branagh) in his dilapidated mansion by the sea, this cranky creature agrees to grant them one wish a day. The catch is the magic wears off at sunset, leaving them no better off than they were before.


Of course, it's not enough for the kids to bring T-rexes to life, sprout wings, or have their household chores carried out by an army of doppelgangers. They have to learn something as well - preferably about self-sacrifice, responsibility and the importance of family. Okay, so no children's picture would be complete without at least one trite moral. But it's the stuffily stentorian way the movie hammers home its messages that irritates; the various action set-pieces doing little to dispel the general air of Victorian fustiness.

Thank God, then, for Izzard, whose cheeky, anarchic performance brings a welcome note of subversiveness to these tame proceedings. Whether humming the Countdown theme, breaking wind or making fun of the obligatory fat kid, his 'It' is a hit.

Five Children And It is released in UK cinemas on Friday 15th October 2004.

September 23, 2004                                         

[SFX Magazine | November 2004 | Thanks Vicky]

o E Nesbitt's children's classic emerges barely recognisable, but none the worse for that.

2004, Dir: John Stephenson. Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Zoe Wanamaker, Freddie Highmore, Eddie Izzard Cert. PG Running time: 93 mins Released: 15 0ctober

IF E NESBITT HAD THE KIND OF FANATICAL FOLLOWING that JK Rowling has, there would probably be columns of pint-sized protesters descending on Soho in disgust. Harry Potter can hardly sneeze in the wrong places without fans crying, "Travesty!". So thank God so few kids read Nesbitt any more because this new him version of Five Children And It isn't so much 'based on' as 'bearing a passing similarity to' the original book, which isn't, on any level, a criticism. This is a wonderfully entertaining and constantly engaging children's film that simply takes the spirit and central idea of the book then spins an almost totally new yarn. There are still five kids from London who move to the country, but the period has been moved from Victorian times to World War II. They do still encounter a grumpy sand fairy who grants them wishes and teaches them a few lessons about life, but the country house to which they're sent (in this case as evacuees) is very different to the one in the book. It's presided over by a mad uncle (Branagh in fine, scenery eating form), an author of math books for children who's struggling with the fact that his publishers want to replace him with a puppet chicken. Another addition is the five children's cousin, Horace, on odious oik who creates monsters out of bits of his toys in a dungeon laboratory.

It's not just the setting that's old fashioned. In this age of CG-fuelled and post-modern joke-packed children's films, Five Children And It is an almost nostalgic reminder of more innocent family entertainment fare like The Railway Children and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The script is pacy, witty and sharp, peppered with a few genuinely touching moments of palatable pathos. Eddie Izzard is magnificent as the voice of the sand fairy, while the lead child actor Freddie Highmore provides the kind of passionate performance only Stephen Spielberg usually get from kids (the others are okay, though the girls are rather forgettable).

The main drawback is the FX work, which is downright shoddy in places. The Sand Fairy himself is impressive (both in CG and animatronic form, courtesy of Jim Henson's Workshop) but in other places the him looks like it was made circa 1980. There's a flying sequence in which the children grow wings which brings to mind the Hawk men in Flash Gordon, while a sequence with a T-Rex looks suspiciously as if it's been considerably down sized from an original - presumably more expensive - concept. Some of the action sequences similarly suffer from budget restrictions, which could see this struggle at the box office, where today's Hollywood movies promise all sort of extravagant eye candy. But on a script and acting level, Five Children and let can stand proudly alongside the likes of the Stuart Little and Spy Kids movies.

September 20, 2004                                         

[Thanks Maria] I went to the Gala presentation (the movie played again the next day so it had two showings) and there was a variety of people waiting to see this movie, from families to major Eddie fans (including myself). A couple of guys behind us were talking about EI and hoping he would be there but sadly I had to inform them that our man was in the UK doing "gigs". They were sorely disappointed as they were hoping to see him in "female gear".

Anyway, the story was very engrossing. I felt as if I was dragged into their adventures and waited impatiently for the sand fairy to appear. Once again, Eddie can't make up his mind when he comes to his voices so we had the pleasure of hearing a sort of semi-German accent with a bit of James Mason thrown in. I loved it and you could tell who the Eddie fans were in the audience..they got it! And finally Eddie ad-libbing as the credits rolled - priceless. We definitely need a sequel!

September 13, 2004                                         

[FilmNerd.com] It's about time I got some Wonder and Whimsy. I mean, this is day 4 of the fest!

Based on an old fantasy novel, and set during WWI, this story is about a family of children evacuated to their mad uncle's country home, and the peculiar adventures they have.

Superficially a fairly standard 'learn valuable life lessons from wishes gone wrong' sort of movie, the movie is raised to excellence by the writing and, even more importantly, the excellence of the performances of the cast.

Not only Eddie Izzard, the wild British comedian who voices the titular 'It', but also the various children were given a very long ad-lib leash. The result is dialogue that seems much more alive than you expect in a movie. The children speak to each other like genuine siblings. And the "Sand Fairy" is gut-bustingly funny.

Beautifully shot on the Isle of Man, the movie is obviously a work of love of the material.

I can't wait for the promised sequel.

This film was awesome! I enjoyed every minute of it and can't wait till I can take every kid I know to it! Eddie Izzard is wonderful as the voice of the crochety old sand fairy, and the endearing collection of crazies in this family make one feel vaguely surreal with how accurately this family could be your own. Laugh out loud funny and those people who left before the end of the credits missed out on some great ad-libs by Eddie Izzard.

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