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"THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES"
(2008) (Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
None Moderate Extreme *Heavy Moderate
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Minor Extreme None Mild
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
None None Heavy Heavy Heavy


QUICK TAKE:
Adventure: After moving into their great-great uncle's long abandoned home, a trio of young siblings must contend with the fantastical creatures that are awakened when they open their ancestor's powerful field journal.
PLOT:
Things haven't been easy for the Grace family. Helen (MARY-LOUISE PARKER) and Richard (ANDREW McCARTHY) have split up, with her taking the kids -- twins Jared (FREDDIE HIGHMORE) and Simon (FREDDIE HIGHMORE) and their older sister Mallory (SARAH BOLGER) -- and moving into the long-abandoned manor once owned by her great-uncle, Arthur Spiderwick (DAVID STRATHAIRN).

Eighty year earlier, he had become obsessed with cataloguing all of the strange creatures he had discovered living in both the surrounding wounds and inside the house. Yet, his findings became ever more dangerous, eventually leading to his disappearance while saving his young daughter from those beings. With no one believing her account of what happened to her father, the now 80-something Lucinda (JOAN PLOWRIGHT) has spent most of her life institutionalized.

With Jared rebelling over the uprooting of their family, he doesn't pay heed to warnings on Arthur's old field journal not to open it. Nor does he pay attention to a more recent warning written in some dust, directly addressed to him. All of which greatly worries "brownie" house faerie Thimbletack (voice of MARTIN SHORT), a tiny being prone to blowing up like a puffer fish when irritated.

The appointed keeper of the journal and its secrets, he knows that no good will come of Jared opening it. Indeed, his doing so has awakened the goblins that reside in the adjacent woods and work for Mulgarath (NICK NOLTE), a shape-shifting ogre that wants the field journal as Arthur's previous findings could make him all-powerful.

With the help of bird-eating hobgoblin Hogsqueal (voice of SETH ROGEN), the kids eventually realize what they've unleashed as well as what's at stake, and then set out to prevent Mulgarath and his minions from gaining possession of the journal.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
It's a good bet many will, particularly if they're fans of the book series.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
For scary creature action and violence, peril and some thematic elements.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • FREDDIE HIGHMORE plays a boy who's upset about his parents splitting and wrongly blames that on and takes out his frustrations on his mom. He also sets into motion the unleashing of Mulgarath and the goblins by opening the field journal after ignoring the warnings on it. He ends up showing courage in trying to keep them from getting the journal.
  • FREDDIE HIGHMORE also plays his twin brother, a more reserved and introspective kid who similarly must contend with the beings who are after them.
  • SARAH BOLGER plays their older sister who knows the truth about their parents, but tries to shield her brothers from that. She doesn't believe their story about the goblins at first, but quickly changes her mind upon encountering and eventually seeing them.
  • MARY-LOUISE PARKER plays their mother who's trying to keep it together, but is breaking down due to her failed marriage and subsequent move.
  • DAVID STRATHAIRN plays her great-uncle in the past, a zoologist of sorts who catalogued a number of previously undiscovered beings in his field journal, thus unleashing dangers he didn't anticipate.
  • JOAN PLOWRIGHT plays his daughter, now a long-institutionalized octogenarian who ends up helping the kids when they encounter the same beings she did 80 years earlier.
  • THIMBLETACK is the house faerie assigned to guard the field journal, and thus is upset when Jared finds and opens it. Prone to morphing into a slightly bigger and nastier being, he's easily appeased by honey that returns him to his original form.
  • HOGSQUEAL is the hobgoblin who informs and helps Jared when not busy chasing, catching and eating birds.
  • MULGARATH is the shape-shifting ogre who has the goblins do his evil bidding to try to gain control of the field journal (that will give him ultimate power).
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this adventure/fantasy film that's been rated PG. Profanity consists of an incomplete "s" word, a minor expletive and some religious phrases, while various colorful phrases are also present.

    Fantasy-based violence includes various goblins and a much larger monster attacking and trying to kill kids and others, with some of those goblins meeting their demise at the end of swords and an explosion of tomato sauce (that's deadly to them). Some of that has greenish gooey results, while those scenes, the appearance of the monsters, and various moments of potential peril (most involving kids) could be rather intense, suspenseful, and/or the stuff of nightmares for very young viewers.

    Some behavior might be enticing for imitation, while the various villains and the main character have bad attitudes. Tense family material is present, stemming from a parental breakup, as well as a long-missing father for another, now much older woman.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, a flashlight spins round and round in a scene early in the film.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there's a flying scene looking down from great heights (and the ground zipping by might induce that reaction).


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • None.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Hogsqueal spits goo into Jared's face (to enable him to see the otherwise invisible goblins), and later does the same to Simon and Mallory.
  • We see somewhat bloody scratch and/or bite marks on Simon's leg from a goblin attack, and slight scratch marks on Mallory's arm from the same. When she gets some of them with her fencing sword, we see some resultant green goo.
  • We see a little resultant green goo after Jared jabs a monstrous troll with a pole or something similar. We then see more when a truck accidentally smashes into the troll as it starts to come out through a manhole.
  • Lucinda shows the kids her still bad-looking and decades-old scars on her arm (from a previous goblin attack on her as a girl).
  • Some of Mulgarath's fingers are cut off when he puts his hand into a dumbwaiter shaft.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Jared isn't happy to be moving into the new (old) house, and gives others the silent treatment. When Mallory gets him out of the SUV, he ends up repeatedly whacking that with a stick.
  • Some viewers might not like the kids using terms such as "nut bag" and "nut house" (referring to their institutionalized great aunt who they've never met).
  • The kids argue about, among other things, their father and whether he's coming there or not.
  • Jared is upset with his mom when he learns that his father won't be joining them, and takes that out on her.
  • Mulgarath and the goblins have bad attitudes, with the former showing the most as he's desirous of obtaining the journal to give him great power, and doesn't care who's harmed in the process.
  • Jared lies about leaving the journal at home, and takes it outside the protective circle, thus endangering the world (should Mulgarath or his goblin henchmen get their hands on it).
  • Helen is upset with the way the kids are acting, with Jared saying that's why his dad left her, adding that she always stops listening and starts yelling. He follows that by saying he hates her and doesn't want to live with her. Mallory then tells Jared that their dad moved in with another woman and is not coming back to them.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence," "Blood/Gore" and "Jump Scenes" may be unsettling, suspenseful or scary to younger viewers and/or those with low tolerance levels for such material.
  • The appearances of Mulgarath, the various goblins, and other such creatures might be unsettling and/or scary to younger viewers.
  • Right after Arthur puts a wax stamp on his journal, we hear various monster sounds around him.
  • Jared hears odd sounds around him from the woods, and we see the POV of someone or something looking at him.
  • Jared takes a dumbwaiter up to Arthur's old office where he slowly walks along with his flashlight illuminating the way. He finds his great, great uncle's field journey, as well as two dire warnings (one on the journal, the other written in dust nearby), while There, are sounds of what appear to be some sort of creature scuttling/scurrying about.
  • Jared breaks the seal on Arthur's field journal, immediately followed by monster and more scurrying sounds as well as a shockwave emanating outward from the house. We see some books on a shelf spread apart as well as a point of view looking out at him from between them.
  • The journal states that some of the creatures should be feared, particularly Mulgarath.
  • There's the POV of goblins watching the kids, and that of one slamming into the force field around the house as it races toward them.
  • A goblin gets Simon by the feet and starts pulling him away, with Jared "seeing" the invisible goblins taking him off. He then follows them, eventually running into Hogsqueal, and then seeing that the goblins have Simon in a cage. A mini-tornado of leaves then forms up from the ground, eventually revealing Mulgarath as an old man. Hogsqueal, however, warns Jared that it really isn't Mulgarath's true form, and the head villain then threatens harm to Simon's family if the boy doesn't deliver the field journal as promised. After Simon leaves, Mulgarath gives the order to kill the boy and his family.
  • Jared and Simon struggle in the woods until the visible/invisible goblins chase them back toward the house. Jared makes it inside the protective magical circle, but one or more of the invisible goblins gets Simon by the leg, scratching and/or biting him there (with some bloody results). Mallory then comes out and doesn't heed Jared's warning not to leave the circle (as she can't see the goblins and didn't witness the attack that just occurred). One of the invisible goblins then scratches her arm and rips part of her pants leg, with her then defending herself with her fencing sword. She mostly blindly slices, stabs, and otherwise strikes some of them, with some resultant green goo coming from the wounded or dead goblins. She gets back inside the protective circle, and we then see that the house is surrounded by many goblins just kept at bay by that magical circle.
  • Thimbletack says they're all going to die (from the pending goblin attack).
  • As Simon creates a diversion, Jared and Mallory run from the house, outside the protective circle, and to a small outbuilding in which is the entrance to a tunnel leading to town. The goblins spot them, however, and race toward them as Jared tries to get the door open. He does just in time, with them going through the floor into the entrance -- that they lock shut -- just as a goblin crashes through the window. The lead goblin then orders the others to dig down to the tunnel. The kids' worries are compounded, however, by a monstrous troll that comes after them inside the tunnel, and grabs and drags Jared away. Jared jabs it with some sort of pole (with a little resultant green goo), allowing him and Mallory to escape. They then scramble up a ladder through a manhole cover in the street above them, with the troll following, but a truck accidentally smashes into the troll, wounding or killing it (with more green goo), with it then sliding back down through the manhole.
  • We see a flashback to Arthur panicking as young Lucy unknowingly goes out of the protective circle and is attacked by invisible goblins. Arthur rescues her by beating them off her, but must then be rescued himself by faeries that fly him away, forever out of Lucy's sight.
  • The goblin leader crashes through Lucinda's window and grabs the journal that Jared is holding. They struggle, with the goblin tearing away part of it until Lucinda throws salt that burns him.
  • The siblings ride atop a huge griffin that zips through the sky and then toward an immense ice wall (the kids are scared, but it squeezes through an opening at high speed without hitting anything).
  • With Arthur creating a diversion, the siblings barely escape from a nirvana/purgatory on the back of a griffin as hordes of tiny faeries try to prevent them from leaving.
  • Kids may worry when Helen returns home, unaware of the invisible goblins surrounding the house. The kids then race into the car, hitting one goblin with an opened door, and Mallory then drives over many of them to get inside the protective circle (and ends up crashing into the house, but no one is harmed).
  • Kids may worry that the goblins now know how to break the protective circle around the house and will do so shortly.
  • The goblins break the protective circle and then attack the house, furiously trying to get in through the boarded up windows and doors, and then burrowing beneath the house and trying to come up through the floorboards. As they do the latter and grab at the humans inside, the latter strike, slice and spray the goblins, wounding or killing some and causing others to retreat. Mulgarath then enters the house in huge monster form, smashing through doors, throwing the piano aside, and generally causing all sorts of interior property damage while coming after the humans who eventually find themselves trapped in the kitchen. When Mulgarath and the goblins break into that room, they find it empty, save for a trail on the floor that's then ignited and leads to the oven. There, a tremendous explosion of tomato sauce (that's deadly to the goblins) hits all of the intruders, causing them to dissolve into green goo.
  • Spoiler Alert: After seemingly killing all of the intruders, the kids hear a noise at the front door and cautiously go there, only to find that it's their dad. After a moment, however, Jared suddenly stabs his dad, knowing full well that it's really Mulgarath in disguise. He then turns back into the monstrous-sized Mulgarath, and knocks Mallory aside when she comes at him with a sword. He then chases after Jared who escapes in the dumbwaiter, with that cutting off some of Mulgarath's fingers. Mulgarath then turns into a huge serpent and comes after the boy, grabbing him. Thimbletack then grabs the snake, but is thrown aside and knocked unconscious. Jared then makes his way out onto the roof, followed by Mulgarath back in monstrous form, with the latter causing exterior property damage while coming after the boy. Jared stabs Mulgarath in the hand, but then slides down the roof and dangles from the edge. He then throws the journal from the roof, prompting Mulgarath to turn into a huge crow (or similar black bird) to catch it. But as Mulgarath flies off, his path takes him in front of Hogsqueal who catches and quickly devours him. Jared then falls from the edge, but slows his fall by grabbing other parts of the house before hitting the ground (he's okay).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Fencing sword/Regular sword: Used to fend off attacking goblins, wounding or killing various ones. See "Violence" for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: An incomplete "Oh sh*t," "Thanks for having my back, bro," "Nut bag," "Nut house," "You're such a liar," "Shut up," "Nice move, pin-head," "You foolish boy," "Little twerp," "What the hell?" "Psycho," "Freaked out about," "Idiot," "I didn't think we'd unleash goblin furry," "Chill," "Step away from the book," "Are you mad?" "Go, you toads, go" and "The taste of vengeance is sweet."
  • Some of the action and other stunts might be enticing for some kids to imitate.
  • Jared hears sounds of something scurrying under the floor and behind the walls, prompting him to poke holes in the latter with a broom handle. Mallory chastises him for that, but then inadvertently creates a much bigger hole herself in the same
  • Jared wakes up Simon by repeatedly tapping his flashlight on him.
  • We hear Mallory screaming and then see that her hair has been tied to the various rungs of her bedpost as she slept.
  • Hogsqueal belches several times after eating a large bird.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • A sudden flash of lighting might startle some viewers.
  • Spoiler Alert: Jared suddenly stabs his dad, knowing full well that it's really Mulgarath in disguise.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • An extreme amount of suspenseful, ominous, and heavily-dramatic music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 incomplete "s" word, 1 hell, 7 uses of "Oh my God" and 2 uses each of "God" and "Oh God" and 1 use of "My God"
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • None.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • To make him get out of the family vehicle and break his silent treatment, Mallory punches Jared in the upper body. He then comes at her with a large stick, with her fending him off with her fencing sword. Mad at his defeat, Jared then repeatedly hits the SUV with his large stick.
  • The kids argue about, among other things, their father and whether he's coming there or not.
  • Jared is upset with his mom when he learns that his father won't be joining them.
  • Hogsqueal states he wants revenge on Mulgarath for the latter previously killing his family.
  • We see a flashback to Arthur panicking as young Lucy unknowingly goes out of the protective circle and is attacked by invisible goblins. Arthur rescues her by beating them off her, but must then be rescued himself by faeries that fly him away, forever out of Lucy's sight.
  • Helen is upset with the way the kids are acting, with Jared saying that's why his dad left her, adding that she always stops listening and starts yelling. He follows that by saying he hates her and doesn't want to live with her. Mallory then tells Jared that their dad moved in with another woman and is not coming back to them.
  • In his nirvana/purgatory, Arthur (who hasn't aged in 80 years), realizes his wife must surely be dead by now.
  • Spoiler Alert: Jared suddenly stabs his dad, knowing full well that it's really Mulgarath in disguise.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Marital problems and their affect on kids.
  • Hogsqueal states he wants revenge on Mulgarath for the latter previously killing his family.
  • Kids and the imaginary and/or invisible creatures they claim they see.
  • The presence of faeries and other such beings throughout storytelling.
  • VIOLENCE
  • To make him get out of the family vehicle and break his silent treatment, Mallory punches Jared in the upper body. He then comes at her with a large stick, with her fending him off with her fencing sword. Mad at his defeat, Jared then repeatedly hits the SUV with his large stick.
  • Jared hears sounds of something scurrying under the floor and behind the walls, prompting him to poke holes in the latter with a broom handle. Mallory chastises him for that, but then inadvertently creates a much bigger hole herself in the same.
  • We see a flashback to a crow (or similar black bird) attacking Arthur.
  • We hear Mallory screaming and then see that her hair has been tied to the various rungs of her bedpost as she slept.
  • Mallory and Simon spar.
  • A goblin gets Simon by the feet and starts pulling him away, with Jared "seeing" the invisible goblins taking him off.
  • An invisible Hogsqueal catches and quickly eats a bird.
  • Jared and Simon struggle in the woods until the visible/invisible goblins chase them back toward the house. Jared makes it inside the protective magical circle, but one or more of the invisible goblins gets Simon by the leg, scratching and/or biting him there (with some bloody results). Mallory then comes out and doesn't heed Jared's warning not to leave the circle (as she can't see the goblins and didn't witness the attack that just occurred). One of the invisible goblins then scratches her arm and rips part of her pants leg, with her then defending herself with her fencing sword. She mostly blindly slices, stabs, and otherwise strikes some of them, with some resultant green goo coming from the wounded or dead goblins.
  • A monstrous troll comes after Jared and Mallory inside a tunnel, and grabs and drags Jared away. Jared jabs it with some sort of pole (with a little resultant green goo), allowing him and Mallory to escape. They then scramble up a ladder through a manhole cover in the street above them, with the troll following, but a truck accidentally smashes into the troll, wounding or killing it (with more green goo), with it then sliding back down through the manhole.
  • We see a flashback to Arthur panicking as young Lucy unknowingly goes out of the protective circle and is attacked by invisible goblins. Arthur rescues her by beating them off her, but must then be rescued himself by faeries that fly him away, forever out of Lucy's sight.
  • The goblin leader crashes through Lucinda's window and grabs the journal that Jared is holding. They struggle, with the goblin tearing away part of it until Lucinda throws salt that burns him.
  • Upset about the head goblin not succeeding, Mulgarath grabs his henchman in his huge hand, lifting him from the floor, and causing him pain.
  • The goblins break the protective circle and then attack the house, furiously trying to get in through the boarded up windows and doors, and then burrowing beneath the house and trying to come up through the floorboards. As they do the latter and grab at the humans inside, the latter strike, slice and spray the goblins, wounding or killing some and causing others to retreat. Mulgarath then enters the house in huge monster form, smashing through doors, throwing the piano aside, and generally causing all sorts of interior property damage while coming after the humans who eventually find themselves trapped in the kitchen. When Mulgarath and the goblins break into that room, they find it empty, save for a trail on the floor that's then ignited and leads to the oven. There, a tremendous explosion of tomato sauce (that's deadly to the goblins) hits all of the intruders, causing them to dissolve into green goo.
  • Spoiler Alert: After seemingly killing all of the intruders, the kids hear a noise at the front door and cautiously go there, only to find that it's their dad. After a moment, however, Jared suddenly stabs his dad, knowing full well that it's really Mulgarath in disguise. He then turns back into the monstrous-sized Mulgarath, and knocks Mallory aside when she comes at him with a sword. He then chases after Jared who escapes in the dumbwaiter, with that cutting off some of Mulgarath's fingers. Mulgarath then turns into a huge serpent and comes after the boy, grabbing him. Thimbletack then grabs the snake, but is thrown aside and knocked unconscious. Jared then makes his way out onto the roof, followed by Mulgarath back in monstrous form, with the latter causing exterior property damage while coming after the boy. Jared stabs Mulgarath in the hand, but then slides down the roof and dangles from the edge. He then throws the journal from the roof, prompting Mulgarath to turn into a huge crow (or similar black bird) to catch it. But as Mulgarath flies off, his path takes him in front of Hogsqueal who catches and quickly devours him. Jared then falls from the edge, but slows his fall by grabbing other parts of the house before hitting the ground (he's okay).



  • Reviewed February 5, 2008 / Posted February 14, 2008

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