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Young and Prodigious T S Spivet, The (3D)


Stars: Kyle Catlett, Helena Bonham Carter, Callum Keith Rennie, Judy Davis, Jakob Davies, Robert Maillet, Richard Jutras, Dominique Pinon

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Whimsical French director Jeunet, who loves bizarre gadgets and fantastical films, turns his attention to Americana in this largely enjoyable adaptation of the best-seller about a 10-year-old scientific genius (Catlett), who lives on a Montana farm with his entymologist mother (Bonham Carter), rancher father (Rennie) and teenage sister (Niamh Wilson), though he is still haunted by the death of his less cerebral brother (Davies) in a shooting accident that stemmed from one of T S's many experiments.

The bĂȘte noire of his science teacher (Jutras), who insists on giving him low marks, T S has currently just invented a perpetual motion machine, details of which he sends to the Smithsonian in Washington.

To his amazement, T S receives a call from the Smithsonian's highly-string administrator (Davis) telling him that he has won their prestigious Baird Award for the scientific achievement of the year.

Conning her into believing that it's his father who is the recipient, T S packs a case and sets out to travel thousands of miles to Washington, via Wyoming, Colorado and the mid-west states.

This part of the film is its most entertaining, even if it does need to carry its story along a little faster, as T S stows away on a train, hitches a ride on a massive pantechnicon and meets people who help him as well as police who chase him.

Catlett, vaguely reminiscent of the young Macaulay Culkin, does just fine in a demanding role, but the film's chief distinguishing feature is its remarkable use of 3D, every scene given a depth that brings relevant objects to the fore, and enhanced by the burnished cinematography of Thomas Hardmeier.

The bad language at the end doesn't seem to belong in what is essentially an old-style family film, even though the censor has been lenient and given a 12A certificate.

David Quinlan

Canada/France 2013. UK Distributor: Entertainment One. Colour by Eclair.
105 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 08 Jun 2014