Who's In It: Brendan Fraser, Sienna Guillory, Eliza Bennett, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Andy Serkis, Jim Broadbent, Jennifer Connelly
The Basics:A bookbinder known as a Silvertongue lost his wife because of "Inkheart" (he read aloud and pulled some bad guys out of the book while she got pulled into the book) and now has to do battle with a Dustfinger, a Capricorn, a Cockerell, a Flatnose and a Fenoglio. Meanwhile Toto and the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan's ticking crocodile, Rapunzel, Helen Mirren, water nymphs and some guy who I think is supposed to be Aladdin are all running around doing stuff too. I could be wrong about all of this but I'm not going to take any of the blame for being baffled. I will admit, however, to lasting about 30 minutes before I started daydreaming about where I could get some powdered-sugar-coated jelly donuts.
What's The Deal:Apparently this movie is based on a book that's really popular in Germany. Like Harry Potter-level popular. And maybe they like this film version, too. It was released there last year, after all, long before Americans got to see it. Maybe its approach is too Euro and lost on boors like us. But I don't think so. And while it hurts to have to tell you that a family movie based on a book that's all about loving books--a very nice idea to me, since I'm a big fan of books and not hostile toward the idea of families--is such a terrible confusional mess that I'd sooner plant a kid down in front of the TV while Celebrity Rehab is on than take them to see it, that's just what I'm going to do. Avoid.
Most Annoying Thing: The story sets up rules of logic in which a person can't be sucked out of a book's universe into the real world's three dimensions without a real-worlder being sucked into the book. Until it becomes inconvenient. And then people are popping into and out of novels with reckless abandon with no regard for the film's own paradigm. It makes Jumper appear well thought-out.
Featuring The Wasted Talents Of: Helen Mirren. She rides around on a motorcycle yelling to herself, scarf flapping in the wind, frequently sporting a crazy turban-like head wrap. I'd say it also features the wasted talents of Brendan Fraser but I don't think he cares anymore what movies he stars in. He's like if Nicolas Cage just wanted to make movies he could take a seven-year-old to see.
Next Time? More flying monkeys please. There should always be more monkeys.