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Four Kids and It (2020)

"Fans of Jacqueline Wilson deserve better than this!"

Jacqueline Wilson is a popular children’s author; I only know this due to having a little sister and she is constantly telling me what book she is reading. The film should be popular for young children, and you’d think they should enjoy it. However there is little within this film for adults, or teenagers… and from the screening I attended, even the younger children didn’t find it all too funny.

Our story is about two families coming together, the parents introducing their children to each other’s. I am not sure forcing said families on holiday together, who have never met and have underlining issues (issues which become tired and selfish) is the best idea. While on this holiday, they argue, taunt each other and come across a magical being named Psammead voiced by Michael Caine. The Psammead can grant one wish per day which will only last until sun set, any more wishes and it can cause pain towards him.

"Lingering shots of Russell Brand watching the children just didn’t feel right."

There are so many mis steps within this ‘adventure’ and that starts with the young cast. Funnily enough the younger two actors played by Billy Jenkins and Ellie-Mae Siame are great, but the older two are just irritable; over acting and make the film feel a lot longer than it should be. Ashley Aufderheide and Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen were unbearable even for child actors, and I felt their scenes to be stressful, both separately and together. Both gave new meaning to the word ‘brat’, and I even called one a bitch during the screening (under my breath). They spend the film focusing on themselves and the lives they wish they had with the parent that had abandoned them, rather than being thankful for the parent who is actually taking care of them. Then we have the parents, played by Matthew Goode and Paula Patton who are more bothered about having ‘alone time’ than looking after their children; no worries at all for their children running along side some cliffs bullying and pushing each other around.

While the family are walking along trying to find a picnic spot, they come across Russell Brand as Tristian. He is the heir to a mansion and owner of the land they are staying on. Normally I would find his characteristics funny, but in this film they are borderline creepy. Taking a picture of the oldest daughter with no hesitation from the family and just making the viewer generally uncomfortable. Lingering shots of him watching the children just didn’t feel right. He is on the hunt for the Psammead and wants gold. Lots of gold. This is our villain.

"Michael Caine is not charismatic enough for his role as the Psammead."

Unfortunately, Michael Caine is not charismatic enough for his role as the Psammead and I feel it’s a bad choice casting wise. The jokes don’t land, and his voice work just isn’t enough to carry the character. The only time I felt his voice work matched what was happening on the screen was during the emotional scenes in the final stretch, but by this time I had lost interest.

Four Kids & IT wasn’t funny, with too much emphasis on spoilt teenagers and no laughs. I would have watched the film focusing on the younger two siblings as they were great and had genuine heart, however this is the film we have instead. Let down by poor casting choices, poor acting and a script that fails to understand comedy. My two stars are for the youngest cast and a special appearance by Cheryl, who’s ‘acting’ was a nice surprise.

But kids and fans of Jacqueline Wilson deserve better than this!


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