He's had a high profile, little Jonathan Lipnicki. Jerry Maguire, Stuart Little and now this, a playful reworking of the traditionally gothic blood-sucker genre. Based on the best-selling children's books by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg, it's a film made ostensibly for the pre-teen mob, who demand scares, fangs and laughs (and not too many dull talky bits).
Moreover, it's all served with a subversive twist. The vampires are shown as the good guys who live underneath a cemetery, sustain themselves by drinking the blood of cows and just want to be human.
So, with an Indiana Jones-style search for a salvation-bringing amulet, the film sees bespeckled munchkin Lipnicki turn mini-action man to help the vamps lift a three-centuries-old curse. When he's not flying in the air a la Superman with new best chum Rudolph, he's a runnin' and a jumpin' to thwart the relentless attentions of vampire slayer Rookery (Jim Carter in scene-stealing bad guy mode) and his weapon-laden truck.
Director Uli Edel (a proper, grown-up helmer with Last Exit To Brooklyn on his CV) keeps the action zippy, witty and plenty scary enough for the tots. Fused with snappy one-liners, comical flying vampire cows and spooky crypts, Mum and Dad vampires Alice Krige (the Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact) and Richard E Grant play it straight, leaving Lipnicki and newcomers Rollo Weeks and Anna Popplewell to steal the limelight with ease. And it's all wrapped up with a few adult bon-mots, some whizzy CG effects, lavish costumes and excellent production design.
A genre-tweaking fresh spin on a classic theme, The Little Vampire proves a perfect antidote to the traditional overblown heroics of adult creature-of-the-night visions. Go see.
Spills and thrills for the little 'uns and bags of fun for us grown-ups, this unexpectedly stylish take on the vampire myth gets the balance of comic/scary just right. With the toothsome Lipnicki in his element, this is a blood-suckingly fine film.