I understand that Brendan Fraser used to have a beautiful boday, and so we put him in the movies. But at this point, isn't he just a semiawkward actor with a regular boday and perma-terrible bangs? Must his great big eyeballs be all up in my juvenile-fiction magical business?

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Well, THEY ARE. In Inkheart, Fraser is Mo, a humble bookbinder and single dad with a maaaaaagical secret! When Mo reads out loud, SHIT COMES OUT. Shit like the grave of Ebenezer Scrooge! And a hilarious Arabian thief who looks like Demi Moore! And, unfortch, a band of wicked ne'er-do-wells led by a madman named Capricorn.

Inkheart is just all right. The sets feel artificial and cramped, but the screenplay, by Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, is more nuanced than you'd expect from a kids' movie. Most of the casting is better than the film deserves: Jim Broadbent, Helen Mirren, Paul Bettany. Sometimes Fraser—with his bangs and his eyeballs—tries to emote, and things take a dark turn. But then here comes Mirren, riding a unicorn and screaming a mighty battle scream, and it's all worth it. recommended