The Spiderwick Chronicles Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, Mary-Louise Parker, Nick Nolte, Joan Plowright, David Strathairn

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Starring: Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, Mary-Louise Parker, Joan Plowright, David Strathairn, Nick Nolte

Directed by: Mark Waters

Screenplay by: John Sayles

Release Date: February 15th, 2008

MPAA Rating: PG for scary creature action and violence, peril and some thematic elements.

Director Mark Waters was drawn to the uniquely imaginative elements of Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black's The Spiderwick Chronicles, particularly since they are played out in the context of a time and place audiences could relate to -- today's America. "I've always loved movies in the fantasy genre, and when I read these books I saw the opportunity to do something that hadn't been done before -- a movie that dealt with adventure, fantasy and incredibly interesting creatures, but wasn't set in a far-off land with British wizards or Gothic orphans, or just some kind of strange, unrecognizable lead actors."

Instead, Waters says, the film features kid-characters audiences can easily identify with. "They just seem to have been plunked down in an extremely extraordinary situation when the Grace family moves into this family estate they inherited and are slowly introduced to those creatures through a Field Guide. Here was an opportunity to make a movie that everyone could relate to immediately, and relate to just the fact that these kind of crazy, strange creatures could be around us at any time."

One of the reasons the children in the story are identifiable, he says, is that they struggle with problems shared by many families today. "But the enchanted and often perilous journey they embark upon allows them to discover and draw on strengths they never knew they had -- as individuals, and, more importantly, as a family."

Jared Grace, played by Freddie Highmore, is at a crisis point in his life, and it is through this extraordinary adventure that he comes to terms with his feelings about his parents' separation, Waters explains. "Jared has been deeply affected by the divorce; he's very angry and rebellious and doesn't hide his bitterness, especially in his interaction with his mother and siblings. But in the end, this incredible journey, which ends up with him basically saving his family, results in him healing himself, too."

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