With a credit list bursting with A-listers, including Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Chris Pine and Hugh Jackman, it would have been easy for The Rise of the Guardians – a family-friendly fantasy – to have been a disappointment. The Hollywood names, however, rise to the challenge and give a solid, natural performance in what is an enjoyable, if frivolous, fairytale.
The film successfully re-imagines favorite childhood fairytales and urban myths with sprinkles of easy humor. Forget the cherub-faced Santa Claus, the cute Easter bunny, the invisible tooth fairy, and the mysterious Sandman. Instead, you get the boomerang wielding Australian bunny-warrior, the beautiful and lively humming bird-fairy Tooth, and the adorable golden Sandman. Although they are quite different from their canonized counterparts, the new creations look and feel effortless – perhaps the work of producer Guillermo del Toro, the man behind Pan’s Labyrinth.
These ‘Guardians of Childhood’, who are chosen by the mysterious Man in the Moon to protect children all of the world, are confronted by an old enemy: Pitch, the Boogeyman, who is bent on destroying childhood by spreading fear and doubt. Their fight is complicated by the newest (reluctant) addition to the group: Frost, a teenager who just wants to have fun. As he protests, “You don’t want me. You’re all hard work and deadlines! I’m … snowballs and fun times. I’m not a Guardian.”
Like a typical superhero movie Jack has a hole in his heart and questions for which he needs answers. Along the way, Jack has to fight to be respected and believed, while overcoming his fears – the attempt strikes a chord with all ages. So with the Guardians, he begins a quest to find the Tooth’s stolen milkteeth collection (where children’s wonderful childhood memories are stored) to save the children’s dreams and memories.
Liberally re-imaged from William Joyce’s Guardian of Childhood series, the movie is typical family-friendly fun. There’s no clever storyline or plot twist to blow your mind, but it does make for easy 107 minute watch.