Jacqueline Wilson’s children’s novel Four Children and It receives a film adaptation in Four Kids and It from Altitude Film Distribution. Wilson herself adapted the 1902 novel Five Children, and It by E. Nesbit for her book Andy De Emmony directs the film from a screenplay by Simon Lewis and Mark Oswin. David (Matthew Goode) and Alice (Paula Patton) are two people in love who keep their relationship a secret from there offspring. The couple has a bright idea for a joint family vacation to the Coast of Cornwall in southwestern England, where they will share the news with the kids.
David’s kids are daughter Ros (Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen) and son Robbie (Billy Jenkins), while Alice has two daughters Smash (Ashley Aufderheide) and Maudie (Ellie-Mae Siame). Naturally, the kids don’t get along until the magical creature, Psammead (Michael Caine). Psammead is for intense purposes a beach bum, the only difference is he can grant wishes. In standard fashion, the kids begin to wish for everything from becoming a pop start to flying ability, superpowers, and reuniting parents. The caveat is that wishes are only temporary and end at the end of the day. While the kids are enjoying their wishes, they are oblivious to the dastardly Tristan Trent (Russel Brand), who is looking to capture Psammead and add the creature to his trophy room.
Now I don’t mind a good family film since I was a kid once myself. However, the older I have, the more I realize that young audiences are smarter than we give them credit for sometimes. However, they deserve much better than Four Kids and It. The moment my son was able to point out how adverse the special effects were, I knew this was going to be a chore to get through.
For starters, this is 2020, and I find it hard to believe in the age of social media, the kids wouldn’t know that their parents are dating someone new. While I understand the writer’s desire to stay faithful to the source material, but some of the decisions end up hurting the end result.
Why not have the characters as single parents who meet on the beach? I would’ve found that angle more believable. The adult cast is clearly only here for a paycheck. I’m usually a defender of Paula Patton’s, but after her one-note performance here, she may need to fire her agent. This sentiment should also apply to Matthew Goode and Michael Caine, both of who deserve better.
Regarding Russel Brand, my how the mighty have fallen from your heyday of working with Judd Apatow and your great turn on Ballers last year. His performance is filled with sniffs of bad acting. While the young cast never comes off as funny or emotional, they are instead spoiled and annoying. A film of this magnitude also runs too long at 110 mins, when the story could be told in ninety minutes.
Younger audiences may find something to like in the film, but anyone over the age of seven should steer clear. The set up for a movie like this is an easy one, and it should be a modern-day take on two timeless themes, blended families, and be careful what you wish for. Instead, it’s a disjointed mess and another addition to my worst of 2020 list.
Final Grade: F