Most of the characters are one-dimensional and, surprisingly, the voiceovers of this all-star cast (which reportedly cost the filmmaker millions) bring very little to their roles.  Madonna whines.  Fallon annoys. Even De Niro, Keitel and Estevez sound like they’re sleepwalking.  And Snoop Dogg, who has really proven himself in recent years, is simply flat. The only person who stands out among the cast is Bowie, who is both funny and creepy as the evil Maltazar.

The best part about the film is the live action—especially the opening sequences with Farrow, which are beautifully filmed and arrestingly set.  The only problem is that the sets seem far more like the 1950s than the 1960s—save for the scenes with Arthur’s parents, which seem straight out of the Depression era.  Farrow does a lovely job with her role, however, and it’s wonderful to see her onscreen.  So does Highmore, who is quite engaging when he’s doing live action.  Unfortunately, these few scenes are not enough to save the film. 

The message, though subtle, is the usual one about kids being able to do great things and parents who are clueless and incompetent.  Less subtle is the film’s New Age spirituality, which has characters describing the “Yin and the Yang,” a Buddhist concept, and saying, “May the spirits of the ancients go with you.”  At one point, the grandfather insists that the only thing that can save them is prayer, because they need a miracle, implying that this is clearly a means of last resort.  But no one prays—and the miracle happens anyway, which seems to say that it’s all about fate anyway.  There is no mention of God, and the adults all seem hopelessly inept, which is a constant and very negative refrain in most children’s films.

It was also extremely disturbing to think about a 48-year-old woman (Madonna) falling in love with a 10-year-old boy (Highmore), as their characters do. And, who decided to make Princess Selenia look like she works the streets?  For a children’s movie? 

In the end, Arthur and the Invisibles is really only a film that kids (mostly young boys), could love.  But not those who are too young, lest they be scared; not those who are too old, lest they be bored; and not those who are too impressionable, lest they be . . . stirred.

AUDIENCE:  School-aged children and up

DVD EXTRAS:

  • Featured: The Voices of Arthur and the Invisibles
  • Featured: The Making of Arthur and the Invisibles
  • Music Vide “Quest for Love” by Jewel
  • Music Vide “Beautiful Day” by Elijah
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Trailer from the Make Your Own Arthur and the Invisibles Movie Mash-Up Game

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Adult character takes “sleeping drops” at night then, after an accident, drinks the entire bottle and passes out.  Characters consume a strange green juice which gives them a jolt and causes them to want to dance.
  • Language/Profanity: The Lord’s name is taken in vain a few times.
  • Religion: Various references to New Age type spirituality, including teaching like “Nature always balances itself with the opposite, which is called the Yin and the Yang” and the blessing, “May the spirits of the ancients guide you.”
  • Sexual Content/Nudity: A 1000-year-old female character voiced by Madonna has large breasts, curvaceous hips and wears extremely suggestive clothing.  She also falls in love with a 10-year-old boy.
  • Violence: Animated violence including threats to kill characters and annihilate entire populations; several characters have been kidnapped; other characters are slaves; numerous fights in which lives of animated characters are endangered; various dismemberment and/or amputations (without blood) during fights.