25 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
Interesting tale told by a good cast despite being a little slow at times
bob the moo from United Kingdom
31 May 2004
Robert Nobel is a 12 year old schoolboy polite, well-spoken and
friendly. However, he is bullied by schoolmates and called 'Norbert
No-Bottle'. When his parent's split up he is further damaged made worse
by his father planning to remarry. Robert mistakenly volunteers to take
part in a story telling campaign in a local old people's home, where he
meets an old lady that will change his life forever.
This adaptation of the award winning children's book was shown in one
feature-length version on BBC1 rather than the version in parts
described on this site. I sat to watch this despite not really knowing
what it was about and I was surprised to see how solid a story it was
considering it was aimed at kids. The drama is based around Robert
overcoming himself and also doing the bidding of Edith (who may be
forcing Robert to become her dead son), it is sinister at times without
being frightening, slightly supernatural without being too dark or
brooding. Of course the downside of the film is that it is too slow at
times the first hour especially seemed to drag and lacking a strong
enough script to base this amount of time on characters over actions.
That said, once the plot starts proper it is interesting and involving.
What helps it even more is a great cast of child actors several of
whole will be instantly recognisable on either side of the Atlantic for
their appearance in a couple of big films. Sangster is better known for
playing Hitler in a miniseries and for playing 'cute kid' in Love
Actually (a role I'm sure he won on his own merits and without the help
of Uncle Grant). Here he is the key role for the film and he plays it
really well not being overly cute and actually developing as a
character across the film. Johnson plays his character with the same
cockney cheek that he did in Shanghai Knights although happily he is
a little less annoying here as he actually has a character to speak of.
His performance is much better and he shows it in several key moments.
Hancock is also good and generally the support cast of adults and
children all do well.
Overall this special will not make me read the book as I felt this told
a good enough story without me digging further. The fact that it is
very professionally done and supported by many really good child
performances really helps to work with an interesting story even if it
is a little predictable and slow at times.
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