Since seeing this film, I’ve been trying to figure out why I hadn’t heard of it prior to reviewing it. As far as kid flicks go, it’s actually pretty good. It lacks some common kid flick elements, like the kid-friendly gross-out moments, so maybe it’s more young adult than anything (and young adults don’t like to think of themselves as kids, or even liking kid-friendly material), but I had a lot of fun with Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life.
It’s two weeks before Jeremy’s 13th birthday, and he gets a package in the mail. The package was left to him by his now deceased father, and it contains a wooden box marked with the words “The Meaning of Life – for Jeremy Fink to open on his 13 birthday.” Jeremy (Maxwell Beer) can’t wait to open it, except it’s locked by multiple locks and the keys to said locks have apparently been misplaced by the lawyer who has been watching over the package since Jeremy’s father’s death.
While Jeremy is more of a neurotic, “what if…” bundle of nerves, his best friend and next door neighbor Lizzy (Ryan Simpkins) is more daring, and prone to stealing. This kleptomaniac convinces Jeremy to sneak into the lawyer’s offices to find the missing keys, which results in the two of them getting arrested for vandalizing said offices (since they were pretty messy with their search mission). Burdened with community service, the two kids are tasked with delivering packages for the eccentric Oswald (Joe Pantoliano), and their duties take them all over New York City where they meet strange people, slowly amassing more clues or hints on where they might find the missing keys.
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life has all the elements of a great kids flick. There’s eccentric characters to entertain, a mystery to solve and lessons to learn. It’s got some well-known actors in supporting roles, such as Joe Pantoliano and Mira Sorvino (as Jeremy’s mother), and the kids in the film can actually act. Ryan Simpkins as Lizzy in particular stands out, and while the film may be about Jeremy, it’s Lizzy that really drives the train forward.
So we’re back to the beginning, where I wonder how a kids flick this good could wind up being on my desk and not, say, in the multiplex? Maybe it was and I missed it (I’ll admit I’m not known for having my finger on the pulse of kid cinema), but if it wasn’t, it should be. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life is a wonderful film with a fun story. If you’re looking for something to show your pre-teens, skip The Smurfs and show ’em Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life instead.
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