The Grace family is a broken family. Richard (Andrew McCarthy) is leaving his wife, Helen(Mary Louise Parker) and three children. Financially broke, Helen moves her daughter Mallory (Sarah Bolger), twin sons, Jared and Simon (Freddie Highmore in duel roles) to a New England home owned by a senile aunt, Lucinda Spiderwick (Joan Plowright). Aunt Lucinda has been institutionalized because she claimed that her father's disappearance was caused by pixie dust.
As the children adapt to their new world, Mallory accuses Jared of stealing her items. There are strange creaks heard from the house walls. One night, Jared finds a secret dumbwaiter and discovers a book with a warning that says; "DO NOT READ THIS BOOK." Of course, Jared reads the book and is introduced to a hidden world dominated by trolls, goblins and the evil Mulgarath (Nick Nolte).
As the family outcast, Jared finds allies with a ferret like creature, Thimbletack (voiced by Martin Short) and frees Hogsqueal (voiced by Seth Rogen) from a fate worst than death. In the end, Jared new found friends help defeat Mulgarath's evil intentions. Jared also helps find Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn) and reunites the father and the daughter.
At 97 minutes, **The Spiderwick Chronicles** is just long enough for a Saturday afternoon screening.. The visuals are easy to follow and the action does not suffer from attention deficit disorder editing. **The Spiderwick Chronicles** is a roller coaster ride featuring fears, cheers and laughs.
Like **Time Bandits,** **E.T. the Extraterrestrial** and more recently, **Pan's Labyrinth,** **The Spiderwick Chronicles** frames itself with serious family issues. The fantasy elements elaborate the protagonist's pained feelings. It is through the fantasy world that the hero learns to cope with reality.
Or does it? There is a shocking confrontation between Jared and his father that crosses the line between fantasy and reality. **The Spiderwick Chronicles** is rated PG, but I wonder the nightmares this scene will cause children under 13. Nonetheless, **The Spiderwick Chronicles** is a thought provoking family movie that is told in an entertaining matter on the big screen.