MOVIE REVIEW- Disturbing: Arthur and the inappropriates?
A disturbing trend emerged at the end of 2006 involving movies about underage boys and older women. It's not so bad, since it's an R-rated film for adults, that in Notes on a Scandal teacher Cate Blanchett is having an affair with a 15-year-old student; but two other films are aimed at teen and pre-teen audiences.
At the end of Eragon there's an implied promise between the 17-year-old title character and Arya, played by 32-year-old Sienna Guillory, that they'll hook up in the sequel.
Even worse, though more complicated, is Arthur and the Invisibles. Arthur (Freddie Highmore), just turned 10, is attracted to a picture of Princess Selenia of the Minimoys. When he's shrunk down to her size and the movie goes into animated mode they meet and start flirting, though again the promise of consummation is left open at the end. The animated Arthur looks a bit older than 10, although he's supposed to be the same person, but the princess, obviously past puberty, is technically nearly 1,000 years old. Here's the punch line: she's voiced by 48-year-old Madonna, the famous English housewife and author of children's books who sings occasionally. (The voice actress in the French-language version is three years younger.)
Although about two-thirds of Arthur and the Invisibles (written, produced and directed by Frenchman Luc Besson) is animated, the live-action portion is the best part. It features Highmore as Arthur and Mia Farrow as his grandmother. In 1960 they're about to be evicted from her Connecticut farm.
Arthur's beloved grandfather, Archibald (Ron Crawford) an explorer and inventor, disappeared mysteriously three years ago and Arthur's parents (Penny Balfour, Doug Rand) love their son but rarely see him because they're off in "the city" making money – not enough to save the farm, apparently, or maybe Grandma didn't ask.
There's also a dog, Alfred, who doesn't play much of a role but who shows that all the males in this family get their names from the A-list.
Anyway, Grandma and Arthur will lose the farm in 48 hours unless Arthur can find the rubies Grandpa is rumored to have hidden on the property. This requires help from the Minimoys, a tribe of extremely little people Grandpa brought back from Africa to live under the lawn.
Arthur gets shrunk down to the size of a Minimoy and enters their underground world (is this The Ant Bully II?), the animated one where everybody looks like plastic dolls and Princess Selenia looks like a doll in more ways than one.
Like his legendary royal namesake, Arthur frees a magical sword that's been embedded, waiting for a hero. He'll have to use the Sword of Power against the evil wizard Maltazard (voiced by David Bowie) to save the princess and her father (Robert De Niro) and their subjects, in order to retrieve the rubies and save the farm, which will also spare the Minimoys from the developers' bulldozer.
It's a tall order for a 10-year-old, so Arthur has to move fast, which he does in non-stop action that suggests a videogame. To ensure that no demographic is left behind, Besson tosses in a couple of songs as an homage to Pulp Fiction and assigns vocal roles in the English-language version to Snoop Dogg, Jimmy Fallon, Anthony Anderson, Chazz Palminteri, Jason Bateman, Harvey Keitel and Emilio Estevez.
If it sounds like a mish-mash, it is. Once the action starts young viewers may be diverted, but Arthur... should soon become invisible on their playlist of favorites.