DVD Release Date: May 15, 2007
Theatrical Release Date: January 12, 2007 (wide)
Rating: PG (for fantasy action and brief suggestive material)
Genre: Animated Family/Drama
Run Time: 102 min.
Director: Luc Besson
Actors: Freddie Highmore, Mia Farrow, Madonna, Jimmy Fallon, Ron Crawford, Penny Balfour, Douglas Rand, Adam LeFevre, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Snoop Dogg, David Bowie, Emilio Estevez

Ten-year-old Arthur (Freddie Highmore, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is spending the summer with his grandmother (Mia Farrow) on her farm in rural Connecticut, while his parents (Penny Balfour and Douglas Rand) look for work in the city.  It’s 1960, and Arthur’s grandfather (Ron Crawford), a faithful engineer who once served the needy in Africa, is gone, having mysteriously disappeared several years ago.  He left behind his books and inventions, however, which fascinate Arthur for hours on end.  Fortunately, his grandmother also enjoys regaling Arthur with tales of her husbands’ exploits, especially his travels to the land of the Minimoys, right in their backyard, where he swears to have buried a stash of rubies.

When a self-serving real estate developer (Adam LeFevre) threatens to take the farm, Arthur goes on the hunt for his grandfather and the treasure.  He deciphers a strange code, follows the instructions left on the map and, with the help of the African tribe who gave his grandfather the rubies, travels down a telescope into a miniature kingdom of the Minimoys.  The telescope shrinks Arthur, however, to the size of a small insect.  It also transforms him into an animated character that looks like a cross between Billy Idol and Don King.

Down in the grass, under the ground where the Minimoys live, Arthur meets the Minimoy king (Robert De Niro) and his daughter, Princess Selenia (Madonna).  Selenia is convinced that she is not only the heir to the throne, but also the one who has been designated to save her people.  Alas, she cannot pull the Arthurian sword from the stone.  But when they are suddenly invaded by the flying mosquito soldiers of The Evil Maltazar (David Bowie), Arthur retracts the sword and saves the day.  He then leads Selenia and her brother, Betameche (Jimmy Fallon) to find the rubiesand straight into the lair of Maltazar, who is waiting to kill them.  During their journey they share a drink with a Rastafarian bar owner (Snoop Dogg) and engage in plenty of antics.  The only problem is, the clock is ticking.  Arthur has but 48 hours to not only save his farm, but also return to normal size, lest he stay with the Minimoys for ten more months, during which he will be forced to watch the farm bulldozed and replaced by condos.

Writer/director Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita) developed this script from two of his children’s books, which moves rather effortlessly between live action and animation. This is his first attempt at CGI, however, so while it’s not terrible, it’s also not particularly inspired, either.  We’ve seen it done far better in many films, from The Dark Crystal to Antz.  However, the bigger problem is the subject matter itself, which is an unoriginal hodgepodge of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Camelot and Harry Potter, to name just a few.  The plot arc is shaky, and Besson seems to have haphazardly thrown it all together.  Hardly anything makes sense.