Based on the bestselling series of children's fantasy novels of the same name by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES follows the adventures of the Grace family, newly transplanted from New York City to an inherited home in the remote New England woods. Angry with his mother (Mary-Louise Parker) about the move, the sulky Jared (Freddie Highmore) begin to explore the strange old house, and discovers a magical tome written by his great, great uncle Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn). Soon Jared and his twin brother, Simon (also played by Highmore with the aid of seamless special effects), are drawn into a realm of goblins, boggarts, and ogres--a reality that coexists with the human world. By the time the boys' older sister, Mallory (Sarah Bolger), is in on their secret, the siblings are steeped in a conflict with the evil shape-shifting ogre Mulgarath (Nick Nolte), who will stop at nothing to get Spiderwick's book.
Directed by Mark Waters (THE HOUSE OF YES, MEAN GIRLS) and scripted in part by lauded filmmaker John Sayles (THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH), SPIDERWICK succeeds as an engaging kid-oriented movie that also offers up genuine thrills and chills for adults. Highmore and Bolger impressively mask their British and Irish accents, respectively, and display a convincing brother/sister bond, while Martin Short and Seth Rogen provide comic relief as the voices of unlikely CGI allies. Intentionally smaller in scope than other like-minded literary adaptations such as THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA and THE GOLDEN COMPASS, SPIDERWICK is rooted in a beautifully earthy, antique aesthetic that provides the perfect setting for its likable protagonists and bizarre-yet-naturalistic creatures.