Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism
you don’t work in publishing, you might not realize how many Harry Potter
wannabes have been pitched, published, and forgotten since the series started
hitting bestseller lists. It is easy to lump Lady Georgia Byng’s Molly Moon
series in with the rest of the field of imitators, but at least they have a
cute dog. They also have a nice theme of empowerment for young girls judging
from Christopher N. Rowley’s big screen adaptation of her first adventure, Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of
opens this Friday in select cities.
Moon is an orphan, whose pluck rubs Miss Adderstone, the mean-spirited
headmistress decidedly the wrong way. Fellow orphan Rocky Scarlet is her best
friend and probably future boyfriend, but they’re only eleven, so that will
have to wait. Adderstone is so strict, Moon can only read quietly to herself
when she sneaks off to the village library. It is there she happens across a
rare hypnotism instructional book. This antiquarian volume really works, which
is why bumbling smalltime crook Simon Nockman is so desperate to find it.
with her new powers, Moon first mesmerizes Miss Adderstone’s snarly pug Petula
with great success. She soon follows-up by hypnotizing Edna, the dreadful
orphanage cook and Miss Adderstone. Life is suddenly livable in the waifs’
home, but when she neglects the high maintenance Scarlet, he up and gets
himself adopted. Moon follows him to London, where things get even more
complicated, thanks to Nockman.
first outing is much more modest in scope than the Potters, but they skew
towards a younger audience. Frankly, the closer you are demographically to
Mademoiselle Moon, the more you are likely to enjoy her film. Still, grown-ups
can at least appreciate her resiliency, as well as her aversion to self-pity
and habit of accepting responsibility. Basically, she is a good kid who gets
caught up in some unusual situations.
Raffey Cassidy is quite well cast as Moon, displaying an appropriately winning
screen presence and plenty of energy. In contrast, Dominic Monaghan (from Lost and Lord of the Rings) would probably prefer to forget the shtick and
pratfalls that were required of him as the nebbish Nockman. Emily Watson has
probably never been as mousey and milquetoast as she is as Miss Trinkleberry,
the only kind-hearted orphanage staff-member, which is certainly saying
something. However, Joan Collins’ scenery-chewing appearances as Nockman’s
villainous mother are rather amusing in a nostalgic kind of way.
There is nothing objectionable in screenwriter Chris
Hurford’s adaptation of Byng’s children’s book and there is a good deal of merit
to its spirited protagonist. With its respectable production values and Rowley’s
healthy pacing, it makes a decent programming choice for kids (but it will not
overwhelm their parents). Recommended accordingly, Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism opens this Friday (8/14) in
theaters and also releases on iTunes.
Labels: British Cinema, Family films