Arthur and the Invisibles
Aren’t these the things kids used to stick on the end of their pencils?

Golden Mug

Best Animated Film

Theatrical Release Date: 11/29/2006 (France), 12/29/2006 (USA)
Director: Luc Besson
Cast: Freddie Highmore, Mia Farrow
Featured Voices (English Version): Madonna, Jimmy Fallon, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Chazz Palminteri, Emilio Estevez, Snoop Dogg, Anthony Anderson, Jason Bateman, David Bowie

When Luc Besson is making a movie, just about the last thing most people would expect is an animated kid’s film.

Yet at the same time, Besson is the type of person to mix up the themes of his projects, as shown by the stark contrasts of something like “Leon” versus “The Fifth Element”. The one constant in his films, whether its something he wrote or something he also directed, is the whimsical touch that he adds.

It’s there in “Leon” as Jean Reno uses a puppet to entertain the grieving Natalie Portman. It’s there in “The Fifth Element” as Milla Jovovich enjoys rehydrated chicken. (By the way, Audrey Hess does one mean impression of the scene … well worth your time.)

Using that light touch, it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that he made “Arthur and the Invisibles”.

The story is a simple one. A boy (Freddie Highmore) whose head is filled with imaginative stories and adventures, told to him by his grandfather, quests to find the buried treasure in the garden to save his grandparents’ house from being repossessed. He journeys underneath the garden (becoming an animated character along the way) and meets the Minimoys (the original French title being “Arthur et les Minimoys”, which the PR peeps though wouldn’t play in America).

Arthur and some of the Minimoys journey together to find the treasure, as the man repossessing the house plans to demolish the garden thereby destroying their land, and at the same time they plot to defeat the Evil M (voice acted wonderfully by David Bowie).

I can’t even begin to describe how cute this movie is. The voice acting is well done and there is so much humor to be found, even in some of the fight scenes as Evil M’s troops try to conquer the Minimoys.

The film doesn’t bother to slow down too much and create that lull space so many other kid’s films have fallen prey to over the last few years. Unlike the “Shrek” franchise or even the last few Pixar films, everything here felt fun and fresh (although there’s a very strong “Dark Crystal”/”A Bug’s Life” vibe).

You don’t need kids as an excuse to see this film, though if you have them this is a must see. All the rest of you barren lot will just find a light-hearted little film that is a welcome break from this summer of explosions and Michael Bay.

I’m giving “Arthur and the Invisibles” a 4 out of 5 and have made it a welcome addition to my DVD shelves. I think many of you will too.