I figured for sure my children would love it. Surprisingly, though, my own two pre-teens (both of whom enjoy the Harry Potter movies) showed absolutely no interest in watching it. Perhaps it was the gaudy 3D lenticular artwork that held the Blu-ray within that put them off. Why, not even the name “Tim Curry” provided any leverage with them (they also enjoy The Rocky Horror Picture Show, if that tells you anything). So, I settled in late one evening to watch the family-friendly fantasy flick, The Secret Of Moonacre, all by my lonesome. And, after beholding an extended promo for the Girl Scouts at the start-up of the disc, I was convinced that I was most certainly not of the intended target audience.
“But that’s OK,” I though. “I made it through the first Twilight film, so I can endure this one. I know I can.”
Directed by Gabor Csupo, one of the three creative minds behind the long-running Nickelodeon hit, Rugrats, The Secret Of Moonacre is another entry in the recent “Let’s adapt another children’s fantasy book” genre (which pretty much started due to the tremendous success of Harry Potter). Based on Elizabeth Goudge’s novel, The Little White Horse (you have to admit, the decision to change the title definitely made it sound more appealing!), The Secret Of Moonacre tells the tale of Maria Merryweather (no relation to Nicholas or Lee), a young lady of the mid-19th Century who finds herself orphaned when her father is murdered by some ruffians, and without any sort of inheritance when she learns her dear old dad died in debt.
But Maria (Dakota Blue Richards) hasn’t been left with entirely nothing. Her father did leave her with an old book entitled The Ancient Chronicles Of Moonacre Valley. Normally, one might say “Gee, thanks, dad: you died and left me with nothing but a fantasy book,” in such circumstances. Having an obnoxious governess such as Maria’s educator, Miss Heliotrope (Juliet Stevenson), probably wouldn’t encourage a young lass to go on living, either. Nevertheless, our Little Maria is a trooper — and after being sent away to live with her easily-irritated uncle, Sir Benjamin (Ioan Gruffudd, thanking his lucky stars that he’s not starring in another godawful Fantastic Four film) in the dilapidated ancestral home of Moonacre Manor, she discovers both the house and surrounding area are alive with many fantastic and magical powers. Food appears out of nowhere (that’s a keeper in my book), a piano plays mysteriously by itself, and stars descends from the ceiling each night to leave portraits on the wall.