Thief Lord, The
PG
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: +3

Veterans Vanessa Redgrave, Jim Carter and Caroline Goodall have small roles, with the younger parts played by newcomers Aaron Johnson, Jasper Harris, and Rollo Weeks. Family action/adventure. Written and directed by Richard Claus (The Little Vampire). New on DVD 3/14/06.

A group of street-wise urchins band together in order to escape abusive foster parents. Theres an innocent Oliver-type, with younger brother in tow, befriended by an Artful Dodger-type who introduces them to a Fagan-type handler of stolen goods. Hmm, sound a bit familiar? But, no, its not really a steal from Dickens. Theres that younger brother who sees statues coming to life. Thats different. Also, its set in modern day. Thats different.

In this action adventure, cockney kids scurry down fire escapes, run through narrow street corridors, race boats on the waterways of Venice, Italy, hide out in an abandoned movie theater, then run some more from brigands and other baddies seeking information the ragamuffin runaways possess. You see, our littlest heroes have discovered the whereabouts of a magical merry-go-round that makes old people young and young people old. Okay, thats different from Oliver Twist.

I think kids will enjoy it because the protagonists are their ages ranging from 8 to 15. Whats more, they outwit bumbling grownups and save the day. The simplistic approach to action/adventure may also be acceptable to pint-sized audiences, but what a shame that just an aisle away in the classics section, parents could be renting David Leans adaptation of Oliver Twist. There are several versions of this Dickens tale, but Lean was a master storyteller (Great Expectations, Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago) and he did it best. Oh, but I must ask, will your offspring watch a black & white film? Because though Leans Oliver Twist is considered the quintessential version, and though it has action, witty dialogue, a strong moral message and delightful performances, it doesnt have any reds or blues.

The Thief Lord will be available on DVD March 14, 2006 with deleted scenes, an animated short film and other extras. And its in color. Youll find it an aisle over from the Classics section.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Fox Home Entertainment

Summary
Crude Language: None.
Obscene Language: The language is mild, with only a few minor expletives (1 hell, 1 damn, 1 crap).
Profanity: My God is uttered twice and at one point the kids find themselves in a church, the one child nervously stating, I dont like churches, they give me the creeps.
Violence: the kids are always running from some perilous situation. A little boy escapes from nasty guardians by climbing around the outside of a hotel and descending by way of a water pipe. A kid hits an adult. Kids hold an adult prisoner. Guns are carried in one scene and pointed at adults in another. Theres some yelling and a woman slaps a child. Two boys are chased by guard dogs.
Sexual Intercourse: None.
Nudity: None.
Homosexual Conduct: None.
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None.
Drug Abuse: A grown-up now made the age of a 8-year-old drinks wine until its taken from him.
Other: None.
Running Time: 99 minutes
Intended Audience: Kids 9-14

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