Based on a classic novel, Four Kids and It has some valuable lessons for kids but lacks an essence of wonder and magic.
David (Matthew Goode) and Alice (Paula Patton) are a newly formed couple, each with a pair of kids that have yet to be made aware of their relationship. They decide to take the kids on a beach holiday so they can become acquainted and break the news to them. On a reluctant bonding day at the beach, the kids discover a magical creature known as Psammead (Michael Caine), who lives under the sand and grants wishes. The kids make use of the wishes, sending them on a coming-of-age adventure that draws them closer together, while also having to fend off their peculiar uncle, who’s after Psammead’s wish-granting powers for his own sinister deeds.
Four Kids and It attempts to bring attention to the difficulties faced in the merging of new families and the effects that such a momentous event can have on the children. It also aims to show kids that personalities from different upbringings can get along when they have similar values, despite the initial hesitation. The creature serves as the catalyst in teaching the film’s child protagonists about the values of family, kindness, and friendship by granting them wishes that lets them experience the pros and cons of desire, ultimately forging a greater bond between them.
The film’s themes are profound but the execution is off the mark, mainly due to the performances and lack of chemistry between the actors. The child actors all seemed to overact, and Matthew Goode and Paula Patton were too bland to be effective. Michael Caine’s voice work was great, though the Psammead design is on the border of cute and creepy, often making for a disconnect between the look and the voice. Russell Brand’s eccentricities come across just fine in his role as the evil uncle Trent, but again, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before from the actor.
While Four Kids and It will likely end up in the unmemorable pile of the fantasy kids film genre, there is enough entertainment value in it for a single viewing, and certainly some lessons of merit for a younger audience to absorb.
When in the mansion looking at the exhibits, the Sankara stones from Indiana Jones Temple is Doom are seen.