Four Kids and It is based on the 1902 novel, Five Children and It, by Edith Nesbit. David and Alice, both single parents, want to take their relationship to the next level—declaring their relationship to their kids. David and his children, Ros and Robbie, meet Alice and her children, Smash and Maudie, at a vacation house in Cornwall. None of the four kids is pleased when they realize that their respective parent has moved on from their divorce and has fallen in love again.
David and Alice are very different as parents. David is responsible and aware of his children’s feelings—he also strives to be part of their lives. Alice, on the other hand, is a much more distant parent. She is constantly on her phone, she drives distractedly, she has no idea how to cook and she does not seem to care whether or not she can locate her children at all times.
Because of their parental differences, Ros and Robbie are very different from Smash and Maudie. Robbie enjoys video games while Ros is into reading—she brings a copy of Nesbit’s Four Children and It with her on vacation. They are both respectful to their father. Smash and Maudie don’t seem to demonstrate that same respect for their mother. At the beginning of the movie, Smash is constantly mouthing off to Alice, and Alice just lets it happen. Smash wants nothing more than to leave Alice to live with her father, and much like her mother, she is glued to her phone.
When Smash takes Robbie’s video game and starts running for the beaches one morning, the children discover a secret beach at the end of a tunnel. Before long, the Psammead, a magical creature capable of granting one wish per day, makes his appearance from beneath the sand. As the kids take turns making wishes every day, their wishes grow more and more elaborate. After making the connection to the book she had been reading, Ros concocts a plan to create a wish that will last forever and bring her parents back together.
It is important to note that the Psammead is a magical creature capable of granting any wish for one full day. He references being alive for thousands of years which, when deeply explored, raises red flags regarding the creation of the earth in Genesis 1.
The setting of Four Kids and It is very well done—the sound is clear despite the beachfront location and the script is straightforward. It does, however, demonstrate a couple contrasting extremes: characters are either very dramatic or seem to not care at all and some choices seem to be made with no explanation. For example, Alice’s cooking and driving skills are not just poor, they are exceptionally bad. Alice is also indifferent to her children’s location for entire days at a time. Smash’s emotions are fierce toward those around her and no effort is made to rein them in. Smash then jumps from hating Ros, to loving her with no real transition. Robbie goes from being obsessed with his video game to sacrificing it for the Psammead out of nowhere. In contrast to this, none of the kids are surprised to find a magical creature living in the sand. Both parents seem unfazed by their very odd neighbor, Tristan Trent and even allow the kids to spend a day exploring his home without them. It’s not until Tristan Trent threatens the children that David does something about it.
In many ways, the film does a great job with character development and integrity. While each person exhibits his or her own unique traits, all of the characters in Four Kids and It grow together as a family as well. Smash, who begins as a selfish character, becomes kind and respectful to everyone—more specifically her mother and Ros. David and Alice grow as a couple and show respect for one another throughout. Ros demonstrates tremendous growth when she realizes that she needs to let the past be in the past and accept her new family for what they are. With great morals and an entertaining plot, Four Kids and It is a great movie for the whole family to enjoy! Four Kids and It is Dove-approved for all ages.
The Dove Take:
Four Kids and It tells the tale of four children and their parents as they grow in character after the kids encounter a magical creature living in the sand near their vacation home.