Madeline (1998) Poster

(1998)

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9/10
Good girl
Boyo-230 July 1998
Sitting through "Madeline" was like a cool breeze on a hot day. Hatty Jones is talented enough to carry the movie, Frances McDormand makes a hell of a nun, and the supporting cast was fine also. I would rather sit through this movie again than ever see most of the summertime garbage we are 'treated' to. The opening and closing credits were beautiful, too. Being a thirtysomething guy, I was unfamiliar with the "Madeline" books, but I have a feeling the movie captured the spirit of the books. A job well done; I loved every minute of it.
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Madeline, the movie, is as charming as it's heroine
inkblot115 July 2003
Taken from the classic books by Ludwig Bemelmans, Madeline is the darling story of 12 little girls who live in a boarding school. The woman in charge of the home is a nun, Miss Clavel (Frances McDormand). Red-headed Madeline is the smallest of the girls but is, nevertheless, fearless and curious. The film follows Madeline's escapades as she has her appendix out, clashes with Pepito (the boy next door), falls in the river and more. There is a subplot concerning the approaching sale of the school and what it will mean to the girls who live there. Is it possible to have a happy ending?

This extremely watchable movie for children is a wonderful addition to the repertoire of good children's films. Hatty Jones is a delight as Madeline and the other little girls are fun and expressive. The leap from book to movie is smooth and successful; the film includes many of the books' key elements and will thus be appreciated by Bemelmans' fans. There is more than enough action and humor to keep children interested from start to finish. Adults will be charmed by the film as well. Recommended for families who are looking for quality alternatives to Disney, Beethoven the dog, Charlotte's Web, etc.
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9/10
Lively, endearing and sweet; what a Children's film SHOULD BE!
Jill-3617 April 1999
Whether or not this film was critically acclaimed by the "so-called" experts or not, is irrelevant. The REAL experts are the children who watch, are captivated and endeared by Madeline's well casted characters. Every child I know (including my own) that has seen this film loved it and has begged for it on video.

Parents may not see this as a daring, frolicking action adventure; but rather as a sweet and funny children's film, which is after all, what is was designed to be.

There are so few films that really MEET a parent's expectations for what they WANT their children to see and can TRUST to not be "profane" (many older children's films that were "G-rated" are being remade now as "PG" under the guises that parents will "want" to watch them to; but do the kids really need the addition of bad language and sexual innuendo?).

Madeline, the movie, is true to the author's original story-line and keeps its poetical, lyrical style and flavor. The children and adults in the cast are true to what the author's characterizations were intended to be.. rather than a so-called "modern version" of it.

It is childhood at its best and its worst, with "realistic" villains (instead of the monstrous or far-fetched) and more of the genuine fun and whimsy that childhood is supposed to possess.

Children everywhere adore this film! As an adult, I appreciate it and APPLAUD it. I wish filmakers would TAKE NOTE and produce MORE films like this... TRULY for Children and SOLIDLY "G-rated". After all... children are the best experts on what they like.. and they LOVE THIS... so do I.
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10/10
Delightful movie for children AND adults
hbarannik14 March 2005
I just loved this version of Madeline, with the inimitable Frances McDormand and Nigel Hawthorne. Funny, attractive movie that is lively enough for adults to enjoy. I highly recommend it. Nothing offensive in it at all. The cinematography, the acting, the costuming was of the highest quality.

As a child I did not really read the Madeline series of books, but I did as an adult, and I found that this screenplay and production bring the book to life. At a time and in a society where there is so much negative entertainment, this was a pleasant offering. It was uplifting. It even had just enough suspense to make it interesting for adults.
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10/10
Loved this movie!
byhc200323 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Madeline is a cute movie for the whole family -- if you like things when they were more simple! The antics of this young girl, Madeline are somewhat typical, often funny, yet sweet and well-meaning as orphaned child who is lonely and sad. Miss Clavel played by the one and only lovely Frances McDormand has the best facial expressions a nun could have when exasperated, yet, she really loves all the girls, but especially Madeline. And Lord Coo-coo face, well there's just something about him that isn't quite right -- it turns out he's lonely and sad, too just like Madeline. I think this movie was a great way to disappear into a Saturday afternoon and forget all the chaos of the week and bring back fond memories of less rushed times. The entire cast is -- well, they're all a kick!
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8/10
Charming and sweet
TheLittleSongbird1 April 2010
Not entirely captivating by all means, but very sweet and charming. While the story has some weak spots and the screenplay superficial at times, what saves it is how it is filmed and acted and how it keeps to the spirit of the picture books. I for one loved how it was filmed; I wasn't expecting another Wizard of Oz or Secret Garden, but the film is very nicely shot, with some dark serious tones but I particularly loved the shots of the Parisian skies. The music is beautiful as well and has a certain liveliness to it. The acting is very good; Hattie Jones has a very likable spunk and with her cute appearance the camera clearly loves her. Frances McDormond is perfectly cast as Miss Clavel, staying true to her character. Nigel Hawthorne is given less to do, but he does well with what he is given as Lord Covington(or Lord Cukooface as the girls call him). Overall, this is a charming and I think underrated film. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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6/10
An Average Comedy, With the Sweet Hatty Jones, a Bright Little Star
claudio_carvalho1 January 2004
In Paris, twelve girls study in a school owned and sponsored by Lady Covington (Stéphane Audran) and managed by a sister, Miss Clavel (Frances McDormand). The youngest and orphan is the six years old Madeline (Hatty Jones). Their neighbor is the Ambassador of Spain, his wife and his son Pepito. When Lady Covington dies, her husband decided to sell the house. Meanwhile, some bad guys plan to kidnap Pepito. This average comedy is very predictable. However, the little, sweet and adorable Hatty Jones makes the difference. This was the last movie I watched in 2003 and I do not regret, since it is a nice family entertainment. My vote is six.
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Cute But Tame
Steve-17624 January 1999
In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines, Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.

If you don't know and love those lines, and if your children don't either, then none of you are likely to enjoy Madeline very much.

Ludwig Bemelans wrote those opening words for the first Madeline book published in 1939. Admirers of Bemelans cite his charming, economical use of words and images. He also illustrated his stories. Madeline the film is by all accounts a faithful homage to this man's notable children's literature.

It's possible that some parents have schooled their children to appreciate the Madeline tales but if they haven't it's likely that Madeline will be considered a little too tame by all but the real littlelees. There's just none of the brash, relatively violent noise of most children's film fare here.

However the film does star Frances McDormand (Fargo) and Nigel Hawthorne (Yes Minister, The Madness Of King George) and they do what they can with a film that some will find charming.

Hawthorne in particular is particularly touching in one of the final scenes. And young Hatty Jones is appropriately determined and fearless.
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9/10
I'm Not Ashamed to Say I Loved It!
loufalce18 April 2008
If you are looking for crashes, explosions, graphic violence, graphic sex, foul language-look elsewhere.Absolutely captivating children's movie for the whole family. Good screen version of a few of Bemelman's stories well acted by a good cast.Mc Dormond is fine as Miss Clavel ,the nun who runs the house all covered with vines with 12 little girls in two straight lines. Hattie Jones is perfect as the mischievous and adventuresome Madeline, the smallest of the girls.Story has something to do with the school closing, but it does not matter.What is here is well acted, directed and moves at a good pace without any dull stretches. A perfect example of a movie that doesn't "talk down" to its audience. The movie does manage to capture the essence of the characters and they all are fine. Paris never looked so good, even if the time line was changed from the 1930s to the 1950s. The transitions from French to English dialogue can be somewhat confusing, but in the light of the films overall context, they can be overlooked. Film is sweet without being saccharine or overly sugary, and the authority figures do not come across as boobs or idiots, but rather as believable characters.Its a shame that Hattie Jones never made another movie. Her portrayal as Madeline hits all the right notes. She will not disappoint Madeline fans-and there are many, including myself. A charming movie and a treat, Madeline has an overall sense of innocence that seems all too rare in this day and age. Surprisingly intelligent and faithful to its sources, Madeline is a keeper!
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9/10
Who said kids don't recognize good movies...?
nettedic425 December 2010
I saw it when I was 8 or so, more than once I believe since I remember it perfectly (around 10 years ago) and I can say that this was a great movie, with a great message, movies like that are missing these days. Sometimes I'm just sorry for some films supposedly "for children" but with plots or a storyline that I think are an insult to their intelligence.

"Madeline" was an innocent, simple and funny movie that I really enjoyed and highly recommend to families, reminded me of "Matilda". I can't wait to see it again when I have kids....

I didn't see that little girl (Hatty Jones) in any other movie which I think is very sad for child actors, but Frances MacDormand is very funny.
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9/10
Marvellous!
efpv191212 June 2000
This film is simply one of those light-hearted creations that keeps you spellbound from title to credits. "Madeline" is a tour-de-force for the children's film industry ... a true masterpiece that touches the heart. The acting far surpasses what one might expect from young talents such those in the movie -- Hatty Jones and Clare Thomas were absolutely superb -- though the grown-ups didn't do badly, either. In fact, much of the credit should go to the "twelve little girls" and the "bad hat" next door, all of whom shared a magnificent performance that did justice to the original characters. They added the essential touch of "cuteness" without appearing overly innocent (Madeline had a mischievous streak that would rival Kevin McAllister's).

In summary, "Madeline" is a film with just the right ingredients to make even adults squeal with delight. While many other "family films" have a tendency to fall flat, this one rises to the occasion and stares right at the competition with a straightforward "Pooh pooh". Three cheers and two thumbs way up for a job well done! Bravo!
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9/10
What an Adaptation!
callie-522 May 2000
Like so many other girls, I grew up enjoying the adventures of Madeline. I was hesitant when I first heard about the making of this movie. It was like hearing that Tom Hanks would do a serious role, or that Jack Nicholson could play The Joker... I just didn't see it. I was so pleasantly surprised by this movie! The casting of Frances McDormand was impeccable. She had just the right amount of feeling and structure for the role. And the writers didn't revert to the old trick of using the "lead authority figure" as their comedic relief. It would have been a shame to have reduced the figure of Miss Clavell to that of a clown. Several stories from the books have been wonderfully intertwined and makes for great viewing. Young Hattie was a great find for the role of Madeline as well, not precocious, just darn good. This is a great family movie, though not necessarily for the young boys of the family. It was made for girls who know and love Madeline. I highly recommend it!
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7/10
Accurate, but at what price?
aalmhs12 February 1999
I was fortunate enough to see "Madeline" on a plane trip. Through babysitting, I had viewed the cartoon series and even read a book. I'm happy to say that I quite enjoy Madeline's adventures and was pleased to see it turned into a movie. I was saddened, however, when the movie, though accurate, did not turn out to be as adventurous as I had imagined. Full credit to the cast - it was not their acting but rather the pathetic state of the staging where three storylines were written rather stiltedly. It was mild entertainment but I'd only recommend it to fans of the series/books and younger children. Better luck next time...
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8/10
magic and charming
bigwig_thalyi3 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Normally I steer well clear of films that are made for young children and for little girls as this one obviously was but once in a while you can be pleasantly surprised and this was one of those occasions. This film is magic and unlike a lot of children's films made nowadays it was not covered in so much sweetness that it was overpowering. Madeline,played superbly by Hatty Jones in her only film to date,is a little girl, who lives in a school run by a nun, along with a lot of other little girls. When the owner of the school threatens to shut down the school and sell it Madeline and her friends come up with daring schemes to repel future owners of the establishment. The movie has plenty of humorous moments including an hysterical meal scene involving a dead chicken called Fred. Children don't need films filled with innuendo or heavily coated with saccharin they need films that remind them what it is like to be a child and the wondrous magic that that involves.This is such a movie.It is a film that any parent would feel is perfectly safe for a child to watch without supervision. The only minor problem,as my wife pointed out,is the occasional switch from English to french which younger children might find confusing. That aside this a delicious children's movie that can be enjoyed by the whole family time and time again
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A muddled film that never really settles down or decides what it wants to do
bob the moo4 January 2007
Madeline is a typically troublesome young red-headed girl who is a ward of the church under the care of Miss Clavel. However just as good as she is at getting into trouble she is equally as good at working out a way out of it. When the kindly Lady Covington dies, Madeline's school loses its most ardent sponsor and faces closure when Lord Covington decides that he no longer has to humour his wife by keeping it open. Obviously none of the girls want this to happen, but Madeline must also deal with other problems as well – not least of which is some sort of plot surrounding Pepito, the son of the Spanish Ambassador.

I had not heard of this film or the famous stories from which it had come but I watched it hoping for a strong child character in a strong family comedy drama. Sadly what I got was a very muddled film that has a couple of plots and forgets to do a great deal with any of them. I appreciate that the character is the heart of the film but that doesn't excuse how messy and poorly focused this is for the majority. It does have some good aspects about it and I can see why some older pre-teens might like it but younger than that and older than that might struggle. For me the main thing the muddled delivery did was rob it of a sense of fun and prevent anything flowing.

At times the tone is silly and childish, at others it is serious and intimate – but it never feels like it is all in one movie and again fragments the flow of it. The cast try hard to work with it but understandably they seem unsure of the tone of the film (a fault that must be put at Mayer's door) and it shows. McDormand is solid but unspectacular while Hawthorne clearly felt that turning up for his scenes was enough. The star is of course Jones as Madeline. She is a strong character but not developed beyond what she can do herself. I have no vested interest in the character but I was a little disappointed with what they did. Daniels is poorly used while De La Osa is purely annoying.

This all might just about do the job for the older, pre-teen audience but younger won't care and older will want more than this delivers. A muddled film that never really settles down or decides what it is doing.
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9/10
Madeline is a movie about a young girl who saves the Orphanage she lives in from closure.
husnain_0518 October 2005
The cartoon series are good but not as good as the movie that is life action and also makes you think how it feels having no blood related family and you have to live in an Orphanage even though it is sort of good fun. Madeline is a orphan that lives in an orphanage and the owner is dead,so the owners sister decides to look after the Orphanage and her big brother in law wants to sell the Orphanage.

I just loved this version of Madeline, with the inimitable Frances McDormand and Nigel Hawthorne. Funny, attractive movie that is lively enough for adults to enjoy as well as just children.

Madeline:Good Morning Cucu face.

Lord Covington: What did you call me?
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10/10
This was Superb
james1480226 July 2000
This film was heart touching! Hatty Jones and Clare Thomas were superb in this film, Bianca Strohmann was an "A" ok but too scurvy. Anyway, this film was awesome but, the thing is Kristian De La Osa, did a good perfomance as Pepito (The Bad Hat), and especially Hatty and him were not as superb as the other actress (Thomas) anyhow.

Frances McDormand (Mississippi Burniung, Fargo), did a wonderful performance as Miss Clavel.

All I have to say, that this film is adorable.

Rated PG for moderate language, and mild adult content.
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7/10
Irresistible And Charming. A Definite Must For Young Children
johnstonjames29 July 2010
i hated to give this likable little movie only a seven, it's really very good, only i did'nt think it was about much except to be nice, congenial entertainment. the 'Madeline' books themselves, though lovely children's classics, are not really about much. they're not supposed to be. they are simple, and nice, and don't burden the child reader with too much message. that's good, since not every message suits every person.

i remember reading the 'Madeline' books as a small child in second grade. i have'nt picked up a 'Madeline' book since then, but i seem to vividly remember them for some strange reason because they really are simple stories. but i remember all the characters and they are all here. Pepito, Genevieve the dog, the circus performers, i remember them all very fondly.

it was a very cute little movie but as an adult, the selling point for me was the incredible Frances McDormand. she is such a great actress who never gives a bad performance. even when i think the movie is bad, she is always really good. this might not be one of her more demanding roles, but the performance is strong, smart, and sure. playing a nun is a fairly complicated thing to do, and she brings it off like a regular Debbie Reynolds. her performance is respectful, restraint, and never crass. i mean come'on folks, religious denominations are a touchy subject. but not here in this film.

this film is perfect for all children and contains nothing offensive except for the word 'Damn'. and if you can't handle that, get the heck out of the kitchen dopey. the main thing that should be cautioned is the irresponsible use of fire crackers. sure, i thought the scene was hilarious, but throwing fire crackers under a person's feet can do serious harm, and parents should definitely talk to their kids about that one.

all in all this was not a great film or a deep one. but it was awfully sweet and cute.
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8/10
Gripping (literally) through a younger critic's eyes
Bildo362 February 1999
As an adult, it's hard to be objective when assessing the merits of an out-and-out kids' film.

For me, Madeline brought back fond memories of all those corny and naff British Children's Film Foundation films of the 70s in which the clever kids always out-witted the bumbling adults.

But for a fair appraisal of 'Madeline', I took along my three-year-old critic and she was rapt from start to finish. She only let go of my arm half-way into the film, and at every suspenseful scene was desperately imploring me, 'Daddy, what happened to Madeline/Genevieve/Pepito?'

So top marks for Madeline from Miss Three (and Mr 30-something as well).
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10/10
Madeline is a film designed for children that is well worth watching with just the right mix of humour, suspense and fun that keeps its viewers entertained from start to finish.
cesparey23 April 1999
Madeline is a highly entertaining and well-crafted film designed especially for children although most of their parents enjoy it too. Set in 1950s Paris, based on the poems by Ludwig Bemelmans, Madeline portrays the life of twelve school girls, the youngest of which, an orphan, is called Madeline (Hatty Jones), and their teacher Miss Clavel (Frances Mc Dormand).

The film has two main plots that are seamlessly woven together in addition to many other smaller elements from the original stories. The first consists of a plan by the recently widowed, Lord Covington (Nigel Hawthorne), the school's owner, to close it and sell the buildings. The second is a scheme to kidnap Pepito (Kristian de la Osa), the troublesome son of the Spanish Ambassador who lives next door. Discovering these Madeline sets to work to try to save her school and rescue Pepito, enlisting the help of her colleagues and having many other adventures along the way.

Throughout the film, the acting is of a surprisingly good standard perfectly recreating the characters in a highly realistic manner, including well rounded and cleverly thought out personalities. The incidental music, written by Michel Legrand, does a wonderful job in creating the correct atmosphere, be it jovial or sorrowful, with an amazing degree of symphonic painting.

Overall Madeline is a film that is well worth watching with just the right mix of humour, suspense and fun that keeps its viewers entertained from start to finish.
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5/10
Not even my kids liked it
DonB-51 January 1999
My kids watch the cartoon so I figured they'd like the movie. By the 1/2 point they were bored and wanted to do something else. My wife liked it best, giving a 7. Perhaps girls will go for this more than my boys did. I found it a big bore.
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9/10
Fantastic film for ten year old granddaughters!
paulatepc6622 July 2021
Great storyline, brilliant acting, lovely characters and feelgood from start to finish.
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6/10
Great for the target audience, and tolerable for the rest of us
blott2319-127 April 2020
Madeline is a pleasant little film based on the children's books written by Ludwig Bemelmans. The story is about a school for young girls that is at risk of being shut down. This is particularly frightening for little Madeline who doesn't have any parents to take care of her if the school is closed. We see the girls get into a number of silly situations along the way, mostly prompted by the actions of Madeline. I wouldn't necessarily describe her as a trouble-maker, but she is a bit precocious at times. Hatty Jones was simply adorable in the role, and I never found her obnoxious or annoying. I liked how this film shows the relationships between the young kids, because it all felt authentic based on the way children that age will treat one another. Casting Frances McDormand for the role of the nun/teacher Miss Clavel was a great choice, because she nails that mix of stern and compassionate. The film is quite juvenile and silly, so it's not exactly made for me, but I think those qualities are perfect for the target audience. It does a wonderful job of finding the right tone for a kids' movie without being aggressively juvenile or condescending, and I will probably end up recommending it to some of my friends with young ones.
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6/10
it gets better
SnoopyStyle5 December 2019
Precocious young Madeline is an English orphan, one of twelve girls under the care of school mistress Miss Clavel (Frances McDormand) in Paris. She hates their neighbor, the arrogant Spanish ambassador's son Pepito. She falls into the river and is rescued by a stray dog which is given the name Genevieve. Lord Covington attempts to sell the school and there is the evil Leopold, the tutor.

I don't know much about the source material. The movie needs to get going a lot sooner. The girls meeting Pepito needs to be earlier. The hospital section leads to the touching reveal at the end but it could be done with a lot less time. It doesn't need to go to the hospital. It just needs the portrait. Once they have the mice fight, Pepito and Madeline can get into a prank war which would serve as filler in the middle. It takes awhile but this gets better.
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