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Little Vampire

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Little Vampire

Starring: Jonathan Lipnicki, Richard Grant
Director: Uli Edel
Rated: PG
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: October 2000
Genres: Comedy, Kids

*Also starring: Rollo Weeks, Tommy Hinkley, Pamela Gidley, Alice Krige, Jim Carter, Anna Popplewell, Dean Cook, Ed Stoppard

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewvideo review
2.  MrBrown read the review movie reviewmovie review

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

To an aristocratic Scotland of large estates and big castles, 8-year-old Tony Thompson and his family have come on temporary assignment from San Diego. Tony's parents are the types who tell the Scots to speak English when they have trouble understanding them. While there, Tony befriends and bonds with a little vampire, Rudolph (Rollo Weeks), about his own age -- for the past 300 years.

Jonathan Lipnicki, charming in STUART LITTLE but cloying in JERRY MAGUIRE, is relatively benign this time as Tony. With spiked hair full of gel, nerdy glasses and a frozen expression, he does nothing to enliven Ulrich Edel's THE LITTLE VAMPIRE, which is as dead as a vampire with a stake through its heart. One supposes that the movie is meant to be taken as a comedy, but it is a low-key and lifeless one with its best scenes generating only a small grin. It does, however, give a new meaning to the old expression, "I could eat a cow." Nothing in this flat film is worth outright laughs.

With its cheap special effects and unattractive, bleak cinematography, the movie isn't much fun to watch either. It's an unimaginative, low-budget feature that you would expect to be released as a direct-to-TV movie on a kids' cable network.

In a blend of the crazy exterminator from MOUSE HUNT and the maniacal snowplow man from SNOW DAY, Rookery (Jim Carter) comes to kill off a local "infestation of vampires." Dressed like a bum and acting like a madman, Rookery carries a glowing cross made out of florescent tubes to control the vampires. Of course, Tony will be threatened but will end up saving the day.

Parents need to be warned about this film whose trailers look innocent and which comes with just a PG rating. It has significant potential to frighten younger viewers. Among many troublesome scenes is one in which Tony emerges with a bloody mouth and face as if he has been sucking blood from someone's neck. Later we briefly see a ketchup bottle sitting on a table, but kids will have long since been scared and probably won't notice the bottle anyway. Another has Tony apparently buried alive in a casket with rats. And overall the movie is filled with dark images and spooky atmospherics.

The childish story doesn't have much to recommend it to those over 12. Those under 9 could end up with some major nightmares. The 9 to 12-year-olds, however, are the perfect demographics for this lame production. They deserve much better, but if you've got kids in this limited age group, they'll probably like it. My son did.

THE LITTLE VAMPIRE runs 1:37. It is officially rated PG for "some mild peril," but remember my warning. It would be acceptable for most kids over 8.

My son Jeffrey, age 11, gave the picture ****. He said that he liked the way the movie had a strong but simple plot and that Rudolph was his favorite character. His only complaint was that he didn't like the ending scene and that the PG rating was too mild. He wanted a new "PG-8" rating for it.

Copyright 2000 Steve Rhodes

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