The Borrowers review

Like its pint-sized cinematic predecessors (such as The Incredible Shrinking Man, Inner Space and Honey I Shrunk the Kids), The Borrowers remains a classic premise: tiny characters on screen fire up big imaginations. And because it's nearly the Crimbo hols and kids are like adults - - only smaller - - they need to go to the cinema too. Fortunately, The Borrowers is no bloated, derivative, terminally unfunny pap (Jingle All The Way anyone?), the staple fare of many a dreary pressie-filled season. For a start, it looks completely fabulous, with seamless, whizzy special effects, not to mention a million huge props, which give the minutiae of life Godzilla-sized proportions. It's a film that cries out to be seen on the big screen.

And interestingly (for us older folk), the movie is both character cross-cultural, and geographically and chronologically surreal. Thus, the American Lenders (plus Goodman's evil Potter) and the British Borrowers (Broadbent, Imrie, etc) inhabit a netherworld of a '30s-inspired London, mixed up with a strangely baroque '90s New York, matte painting, skyscraper-clogged downtown. It's a halfway fantasy, where every car is a gleaming '60s Morris Minor, and where '50s-dressed Goodman (complete with pencil 'tache), has a silver '80s mobile phone.

Awesome production values aside, there's an hysterical cameo from Ruby Wax. Hugh Laurie plays a somewhat over-zealous policeman, while Mark "'we want to be togevvvahh'" Williams portrays the dumb ass to perfection as Pete the Exterminator, Potter's sidekick. And the genius whose inspired casting gave us hammy, rubber-faced goon Goodman as the mountain-sized foil to the vertically-challenged heroes, deserves a snog off the Queen.

The Borrowers has everything you could ask for in a children's film - - a plot (with allusions to Toy Story), some wicked gags (look for little Peagreen Borrower's unexpected interface with a six-foot mound of steaming dog shit), eye-popping gadgets, computer enhanced wizardry, thrills and spills galore (not least the frenetic showdown in a milk bottling plant), and a Borrower cast of thousands. Pint-sized fun for all the family, it's a cracking Christmas stocking filler.

Totally essential gold-plated kiddie flick, and a hoot for adults too. Goodman is a scream and the film's pace, length and content is bang on. It's crushingly simple: find some children (any children), head for a cinema, buy a ticket, sit down. This is gonna be huge.

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