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Four Kids and It (PG) - 110 minutes

Bad acting is the hallmark of this far-fetched children’s fantasy.

13-year-old Ros (Teddie Malleson-Allen) is a bookworm, with aspirations of becoming a writer.

Problem is she is yet to find her own voice.

She, along with her nine-year-old brother, Robbie (Billy Jenkins), are good kids – being brought up by their British father because their mother left them to find herself.

13-year-old Smash (Ashley Aufderheide), a nickname for Samantha, is perpetually angry and seemingly loves to defy the authority of her American mother.

She longs to spend time with her father in the Seychelles. He has run off with a younger woman.

Smash also has a cute five-year-old sister, Maudie (Ellie-Mae Siame), both of whom remain under the care of their mum.

The four kids don’t know each other, although the parents most certainly do.

They have been dating in secret and drop this bombshell on the kids.

At the same time, they decide to take the quartet on a small holiday break by the sea so they get to know each other.

Let’s just say the kids are hardly enamoured by the idea.

But all that changes when they encounter a large, grumpy, old, toad-like creature with droopy rabbit ears – known as a Psammead (Michael Caine) who lives buried in sand.

They keep “it” from their parents, David (Matthew Goode) and Alice (Paula Patton).

The Psammead has the ability to grant one wish a day (with the caveat being these wishes run out at sunset) – reluctant though “it” may be to do so – and that is when the kids begin a series of wild adventures.

Also showing a particular interest in the bookworm is a weird and wacky loner, Tristan Trent III (Russell Brand), who lives in a large nearby mansion.

The question is what is he really after?

Four Kids and It was inspired by “Five Children and It”, the turn-of-the-century children’s classic by English author E. Nesbit.

It was adapted for the screen from Jacqueline Wilson’s 2012 bestseller “Four Children and It” by screenwriter Simon Lewis (Tiger House) and is directed by Andy De Emmony (West is West).

You have to suspend belief and then some if you are to appreciate what is being served up here.

I can only imagine littlies to have that ability.

The rest of us are far too cynical.

The whole thing looks and feels forced from go to whoa.

The exaggerated acting and contrived fighting simply serve to undermine an already shaky plot.

The only one who can really get away with it is Russell Brand because, let’s face it, he is known for pushing the envelope.

Mind you, I didn’t particularly care for him either.

I can only hope the target demographic will regard this as fun, which is more than I can say about Four Kids and It.

Rated PG, it scores a 5 out of 10.

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