Who's in It:
Freddie Highmore, Mia Farrow, David Bowie, Madonna, Snoop Dogg, Jimmy Fallon, Robert De Niro, Anthony Anderson, Chazz Palminteri, Jason Bateman, Harvey Keitel, Emilio Estevez
The Basics: Live action and animation congeal into a stinky glop when a kid has to go into a fantasy world of tiny creatures to retrieve some jewels that will help his in-debt granny save her home from mean developers. The fantasy world is underground outside the house, so his "hero's journey" is more like a stroll. Meanwhile it's from Fifth Element loon Luc Besson, and the whole time I just sat there thinking about how many cool French movies didn't make it to America so that this one could.
What's the Deal? Accuse me of xenophobia if you will, but don't we have enough of our own crappy animated features to contend with in this country? Do we really have to import more awful ones from France and lend celebrity voices to them to keep our soon-to-be brain-damaged children from understanding what a good movie can look and feel like? I say we do.
What Sucks About It the Most: Besides the totally played out, aforementioned "hero" storyline and the useless casting of people like De Niro and the confusing plot stuff that never gets explained, we're treated to even more of that winking, wishes-it-were-hip sarcasm and irony that children barely understand and that parents love when the brats begin to mimic it. And that it's set in 1960 makes it even more excitingly inappropriate for the characters to talk that way.
Saving Grace: David Bowie. He may be incapable of uncool behavior and you think scientists would have studied that quality in him by now. Also Madonna can add this to the short list of films she didn't single-handedly destroy with her participation. It destroys itself just fine. She's actually a neutral component.
Promising Development: I hear that Disney is going to re-kick-start their traditional animation department again. Maybe now we can have a break from all these mono-dimensional 3D lumps of coal.