All the story's twists and turns keep us interested, as do the swashbuckling flashbacks. The now-adolescent Osment holds the film together perfectly, standing his ground opposite the gruff-but-loveable Caine and Duvall, who are very good and nicely muted. And casting Lucas as the present-day Walter, as well as Kane as the olden-day Hub, is a stroke of genius. The film also includes side characters who are colourful and funny. Everyone wants the money, and it's no surprise when Walter learns that there are more important things in life. But the script's themes aren't laid on too heavily, and the heartwarming stuff never quite overwhelms the film, despite a few extremely cornball scenes. McCanlies' direction, meanwhile, is sunny and warm, capturing the time and place glowingly and energetically. This is forgivable since we see everything through the memory of the adult Walter (a cartoonist, whose illustrations are brilliantly done by Bloom County's Berkeley Breathed in a Calvin & Hobbes style). And there are some terrific set pieces along the way to pull us in further. In the end there may not quite be enough here to make the film a classic, but it's enjoyable and lively and warm while it lasts.
dir-scr Tim McCanlies |
with Michael Caine, Robert Duvall, Haley Joel Osment, Kyra Sedgwick, Josh Lucas, Christian Kane, Kevin Haberer, Nicky Katt, Eric Balfour, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Michael O'Neill, Deirdre O'Connell
release US 19.Sep.03; UK 24.Oct.03
Porch rockers: Osment, Caine and Duvall
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