Thursday, January 29, 2009

Inkheart (*)

Inkheart.  105 mins.  PG.  Directed by Iain Softley.  Written by David Lindsay-Abaire.  Starring Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, Eliza Benett, Andy Serkis, Jim Broadbent, and Helen Mirren.

Not every popular children's book can be made into a successful movie.  For every hit like Harry Potter or Twilight, there's a trail of misses: Spiderwick Chronicles, Eragon, The Seeker, etc.  Inkheart, despite an impressively pedigreed cast, definitely falls into the latter category.  It is an absolute failure on almost every level.  Story-wise it's ridiculous: Fraser plays a "silvertongue" named Mo, who can make characters from books come to life when he reads from them.  The only problem is that someone from the real world around him is pulled into the book in exchange each time.  This concept may have played well on the page, but it just seems silly here.  It doesn't help that the movie plays fast and loose with the so-called rules of the world depicted.  Fraser can also be blamed for turning in such an aimless, corny performance--his third in a row after Mummy 3 and Journey to the Center of Crap in 3D.  Even if the oh-so-high concept was somewhat believable, the filmmakers aren't up to the task of pulling it off.  There's no sense of magic or wonder to any of the proceedings here.  Everything is shot dirty and dreary, and when we see book characters (like the flying monkeys or the Peter Pan croc with the clock) come to life, it's like something out of a bad high school theater production.  The cast of talented British actors is wasted - Paul Bettany, Jim Broadbent, and Helen Mirren are all slumming, and wait, didn't Mirren just win an Oscar two years ago?  Revoked!  Even Jennifer Connelly shows up in a random, brief cameo, further cementing this movie as an inexplicable hotspot for good actors looking to cash in on the outside chance that Inkheart will be one of those fantasy kids flicks that actually connects with the audience.  Whoops - better luck next time.  Inkheart is nothing but a stain on movie screens, one that will hopefully wash out once we extricate ourselves from the movie doldrums of January.



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