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Inkheart

Reviewed by C.J. Darlington

"It’s hard to see why Inkheart has been lambasted by many critics, because all the elements of a great family-friendly film are here in full force."

Ever wish Narnia or Middle Earth were real? Or that you really could sit down to coffee with Jo March or Anne of Green Gables? What if anything you read came out of the book and into your world?

People with this gift exist in Inkheart. They’re called Silvertongues, and some of them don’t even know they have this ability, like Mo Folchart (Brendan Fraser). One night when he reads from a novel called Inkheart to his wife and three-year-old daughter, more than one villainous character suddenly appears out of the book, and his wife suddenly disappears into the book.

Mo has never read aloud again, and for nine years he’s searched tirelessly for another rare copy of Inkheart in the hopes that somehow he can read his wife back out. His daughter Meggie (Eliza Bennett) is now twelve and travels Europe with her father, a bookbinder, from bookstore to bookstore. She doesn’t know why her Mom abandoned them. She doesn’t even know what her father’s searching for. But she soon finds out when a strange man named Dustfinger confronts Mo, demanding to be read back into Inkheart. The adventure soon takes both of them into the wilds of Italy, and along the way they make friends and enemies, discovering more than they wish about themselves and the magic of Inkheart.

Based on a novel by Cornelia Funke, Inkheart is a wonderful tribute to the power of story and the love of reading. It’s hard to see why its been lambasted by many critics, because all the elements of a great family-friendly film are here in full force. Its reverence for books shows kids that reading is magical and books are to be treasured. The fantasy adventure taps into a thriving market that’s already been developed by Harry Potter and Narnia.

Inkheart features several noteworthy actors and actresses. Brendan Fraser is of course the quintessential action/adventure dude from the Mummy movies and Walden Media’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. Helen Mirren as cranky and sarcastic Great-Aunt Elinor is brilliant (The movie’s worth watching for her scenes alone.) Villain Capricorn is played by none other than the guy who brought us Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Jim Broadbent (The Professor in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe) as Fenoglio, the author of the novel Inkheart in the movie, is thoroughly convincing as a curmudgeon writer in awe that his characters have come to life before him. Hardly the cast of a flop.

Why aren’t we hearing more about this movie? Sure, there are a few minor continuity guffaws that’ll have you scratching your head, like one minute it’s day in a scene, the next minute the sun is setting. But this is a forgivable offense and found in many box office hits.

Maybe Inkheart veers too far from the novel upon which its based. It’s been said big changes were made. Could this really account for the lack of ticket sales? We might never know. But even if you’ve never read the book, there’s much to enjoy in the movie. With a strong theme of familial love and enough humor to crack up the room, it’s amazing Inkheart is being lost in the shuffle. Let’s hope it’s the sleeper that becomes a DVD hit.

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
MPAA Rating: PG (one d*** uttered, some scary images and action/adventure violence)

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C.J. DarlingtonC.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.