Attending the premiere of new film, Four Kids and It felt a little like receiving a figurative hug from my (monobrowed) 12 year old self. This feel-good movie (and how needed are those good vibes huh) takes you right back to that weird, but on reflection, precious period of time where you’re teetering on the brink between child- and adulthood.
The film bottles up that brief window of self-discovery, those formative years where your folks loosen the reigns a little, letting you explore who you are and your surroundings more and where you make some of the most impoirtant friendships of our life. My best friend today, Carlie, is someone I met age 12.
Equally, it’s a frustrating time, physically and emotionally. That loss of control in many ways is unsettling. Growing up with all the rites of passage that brings can be complex for all, and Four Kids and It never underestimates that fact or the intelligence of their young audience, for that matter.
It’s a moving ride and that’s what successful movies do: they put authentic, universal emotion up there on screen and elicit that right back in return from their audience.
A premiere always provides some added magic too of course and did so quite literally in this case, with magicians and balloon artists in the foyer and a decadent pre-screening tea party of crust-cut sandwiches, paper boats of crudites and gooey chocolate brownies the kids wolfed down.
..The film is adapted by Jacquliene Wilson’s epononymous 2012 bestseller (which was itself inspired by turn of the century classic Five Children and It) and lit legend Jacqueline joined the cast and crew on stage pre-film to introduce it/IT (!). Referencing the grumpy but loveable wish-granter Psammead (expertly played by Michael Caine no less), Jacqueline shared that he must have granted her a wish as it was always her dream to see one of her books adapted for the big screen. It was a touching moment.
I interviewed Jacqueline on the blog and it was wonderful to meet after the screening).
Making a movie has and will always be one of my lifelong ambitions. I feel grateful to Jacqueline for reminding me that so much is possible creatively and that it’s never too late to see your dreams realised.
But enough about my own dreams, the focus of the film is on the four step siblings’ dreams, and sees Ros (Teddie Malleson-Allen), Smash (Ashley Aufderheide), Robbie (Billy Jenkins) and Maudie (Ellie-Mae Siame) unflinchingly embark on a bold adventure as their wishes are granted each day, expiring at sunset, transforming the way they view the world and their relationships within it.
From singing on stage at the 02 (with a cameo from Cheryl Cole) to time travelling back to 1902 and meeting the original 5 kids from 5 Children and It, the film is a fast-paced, emotive whirlwind which sees our protagonists pushed to their limits.
…Initially brought together on a holiday to breathtaking Cornwall (the Irish coast doubled up for it here) by their respective parents whom are now dating, this disgruntled motley crew of kids discover a magical ‘sand monster’ on a beach trip one day who they believe can make their biggest wish (to seperate their parents) come true.
It is only when they are forced to overcome a greater adversity than their broken families: Tristan, the local money-hungry toff (Russell Brand) that they’re able to change old habits and begin their new lives together.
The ensemble cast of relatable kids (and adults) are collectively facing emotional turmoil, which we soon learn cannot be resolved with fairlytale endings, however hard they wish for them to be.
It’s a powerful takeway in these uncertain times. Not everything is fixable in the way you imagined it to be, but with courage, kindness and a newfound resilience, you can find your way.
Four Kids and It is out in cinemas, and also on Sky Cinema on TV and online, on April 10th.