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Arthur and the Invisibles

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Hoping to save his grandparents' house, young Arthur (Freddie Highmore) shrinks himself and heads below ground. There a race of tiny (but not invisible) elfin folk called Minimoys may help him find some buried treasure. After a live-action set-up, Luc Besson's oddly skewed family film goes animated. The cartoon Arthur suddenly looks like Billy Idol circa 1986, complete with ripped leather gear and a noticeable man-package. Besson rounded up an A-list crew of voices for this English-language version (DeNiro, Madonna, Harvey Keitel, Snoop Dogg), but the film stumbles about: The above-ground set-up is dull, and the mystery world beneath is never fully fleshed out; the Minimoy adventures feel rushed; and what kid is gonna get the disco-flashback sequence? Movies that split the kid-adult difference just irk both groups. The last reel is buoyed by the deliciously hammy tones of David Bowie, who voices the Voldemortish villain. (AH)

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