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The Spiderwick Chronicles Review Critics


Dave White Profile

It keeps moving and stays exciting … Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    We're supposed to be agog at the fantastical creatures and dazzling special effects. But the more wrenching story of disillusioned children nags in the background, distracting from any enchantment.

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  • 67

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Spiderwick is set in the present, but goes for an overall design look of dainty, cozy, William Morris-y arts-andcraftiness.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The children's real world, or what passes for real in a fantasy, could hardly be more inviting, for reasons that are hardly mysterious: the strong performances, under Mark Waters's accomplished direction; the smart, bright language, much of it taken from the books; the stylish cinematography, by Caleb Deschanel.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Michael Rechtshaffen

    An enjoyable adventure fantasy that pushes all the requisite buttons while still managing to throw in a pleasant surprise or two.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune

    A fast-moving adventure with more than dynamic glitz to recommend it.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    A well-crafted family thriller that is truly scary and doesn't wimp out.

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  • See all The Spiderwick Chronicles reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 8+

Book-based family fantasy is magical fun but also scary.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this fantasy adventure has been aggressively promoted on Nickelodeon (which helped produce the movie). But even without the heavy rotation of commercials and cereal tie-ins, fans of the best-selling book series will want to see this big-screen adaptation; expect kids as young as 5 to express interest. But the under-7 crowd might be scared by a couple of intense sequences involving the goblins, head ogre Mulgarath, and the Grace children, who do get hurt (with bloody scratches) in the action. Although the movie is connected to merchandising deals with a few products, there isn't that much product placement in the actual film besides Quaker Oats and honey in plastic-bear containers. There's also no age-inappropriate language or sexuality.

  • Families can talk about the movie's themes. How do they compare to other fantasy movies and books? Which specific books or movies does this one remind you of? Why? If kids have read the Spiderwick books, ask them what changes they noticed. Was the film better than you expected? Families can also why Jared was accountable for figuring out how to defend his family from the ogre's wrath. Why are kids rarely believed by adults in fantasy movies? Who does believe the kids?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Jared learns how to take responsibility for unlocking the fantasy world that puts his family in danger. He also realizes that he has to give his mother a chance and that it's not her fault her marriage fell apart. Mallory is a fearless fencer who can defend herself and her younger brothers. While many films dismiss or make fun of the elderly, this movie makes 86-year-old Aunt Lucinda instrumental in saving the Grace family.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence and scariness: Siblings bicker and call each other names ("stupid," "idiot"); Hogsqueal catches and eats birds of all sizes; the ogre Mulgarath shape-shifts from human to monster form. The goblins hurt all three kids, leaving bloody marks on their legs/bodies. The climactic battle scene is pretty intense/frightening.

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: Mallory tells her brothers that their father has "found someone else" and is living with the woman.

  • language false0

    Language: Minor: "hell," "idiot," "stupid," "crazy."

  • consumerism false3

    Consumerism: Mom drives a Ford Explorer; the house is stocked with rows and rows of Quaker Oats and honey bears; the kids have New York Giants and Yankees memorabilia in their room.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue