The Little Vampire

on October 27, 2000 by Chris Wiegand
   Jonathan Lipnicki ("Jerry Maguire") confirms his status as one of the best child actors around in this family film based on characters from Angela Sommer-Bodenburg's popular children's books. "The Little Vampire" successfully subverts traditional representations of the undead, presenting the story of a family of vampires that want to become humans, not bite them.

   Lipnicki plays Tony Thompson, a young boy who has just moved from San Diego to a remote village in Scotland. Tony finds it hard to adapt to life in a new school and a new country, especially when he is teased by his classmates about his obsession with vampires. Neglected by his busy parents, all Tony really wants is someone to play with, so he is delighted when he is visited one night by Rudolph (Rollo Weeks), a similarly lonely vampire boy. Rudolph introduces Tony to his family, who are hunting for the lost half of a magical amulet, which they need to perform a ritual that will make them human again. Tony agrees to help them, but the cigar-chewing vampire hunter Rookery (Jim Carter) follows close behind.

   Scriptwriters Larry Wilson ("Beetlejuice") and Karey Kirkpatrick ("James and the Giant Peach") have successfully combined their experience working on irreverent children's movies to create this delightful tale of curses, secret passages and magical amulets. One of the most refreshing aspects of the script is that the vampires are helped by humans. Furthermore, the children save the adults and the vampire hunter, instead of being a hero, is the villain. "The Little Vampire" also looks great, with fantastic costumes from Academy award-winning designer Jim Acheson, special effects that include flying cows, and some imaginative sets. This is a successful change of pace for director Uli Edel, whose previous films include the somewhat more adult features "Last Exit to Brooklyn" and "Body of Evidence." Starring Jonathan Lipnicki, Richard E. Grant, Jim Carter and Alice Krige. Directed by Uli Edel. Written by Karey Kirkpatrick and Larry Wilson. Produced by Richard Claus. A New Line release. Fantasy/Adventure. Rated PG for some mild peril. Running time: 91 min

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