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Madeline

Starring Frances McDormand and Nigel Hawthorne
introducing Hatty Jones
Screenplay by Mark Levin & Jennifer Flackett
from a story by Malia Scotch Marmo and Mark Levin & Jennifer Flackett
Based on the book "Madeline" by Ludwig Bemelmans
Directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer
Website: www.spe.sony.com/movies/madeline/

IN SHORT: For the lady kidlets and the older nostalgic women.

In an old house in Paris, that was covered in vines,
    lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.
The nun named Clavell was a psychic you see
    and would wake in the night at a quarter to three.
Her eyes would grow wide and her face would flush bright
    as deep down inside she knew "something's not right!"
The problem was not that the girls lived in France
    wWhere the cheese really smells and the nuns rarely dance
The children, all twelve, shared an accent in kind
It was Jolly Good English, just like young Madeline.....

But we'll ignore the accents and, as always, make no comparison to the original material. Madeline books were always for the girls. So is this cute little picture, directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer, who acquits herself nicely after the painful dreck du cinema that was called Woo, a couple of weeks back.

Cranky knew his nieces were foaming at the mouth to see this flick, which is why this review shows up a week after release. He also knows that the other guys he works with at Entertainment Drive have girlfriends foaming at the mouths to see this flick and wanting to know my opinion. Here goes.

Madeline is cute and fairly painless, from the guys point of view. The title character is a spunky kidlet, of around seven years. She's a tiny bit of a tomboy (very tiny) meaning she isn't afraid to stand up to the vertically superior grownups. The actress filling the white gloves, Hatty Jones, is a spunky kid, I'll give you that. Frances McDormand wears the habit as the teaching nun Miss Clavell, and the ever pompous and delightful to watch Nigel Hawthorne stands in as the "evil" man who wishes to sell off the girls school. Keeping it reminds him too much of his late wife, you see.

To any girl out there, you know all this. To any guy out there, the story is packed with kidnaping, explosions, sabotage, mouse torture, an almost drowning in the Seine -- you know, guy stuff. It would have been torture for Cranky to sit through if he was still 16, but he's old enough to have kids this age so, doing my duty, I watched them. All the kidlets in the audience had a dandy time.

Madeline is a movie that is kind and gentle and painless to sit through. In a summer filled with megatons of explosions, it is a fine alternative for parents who have small girls they wish to take to the theater. Failing that, I predict a very long and successful run on video. The movie is comprised of bits from four different Madeline books, perfect for piecemeal viewing by those small enough to use the remote control.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Madeline, he would have paid . . .

$4.00

Sure, it's an obvious $3 "buy the video" level rating. But there are so few flicks out for my nieces and girls of their ages, that I'd spring for the extra bucks. And then buy a copy at Christmastime.

Yeah, it's true, Cranky's a sentimental old sot.


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