19 February 2008 | kmoh-1
An entertaining film, with some splendid moments, but it would be very interesting to see who it was aimed at. Ealing's 'Hue and Cry' is perhaps the greatest film in this post-war nostalgic genre of kids-film-for-adults; this is a long way short of that, although using the same conceit of a timid writer of a kids' thriller story having to turn detective himself. Unlike 'Hue and Cry' the crime isn't really a crime, and the danger is more perceived than real. And again unlike 'Hue and Cry', this film isn't quite sure whether it is appealing to children or to adults. Margaret Rutherford is strangely creepy as Miss Honey, and the fantasy elements of the story misfire. The best sequences are the realistic adult world, of Henry Wrigley's family and his relationship with his wife, two daughters and Michael Medwin as a wet boyfriend of the elder daughter (improving himself through learning the encyclopedia), his work-life with his two assistants, or his lunchtime conversations with Dora Bryan as a friendly barmaid. The Oz-like message, that the lives we have are better than our fantasies or dreams, is certainly reinforced by the comparative failure to motivate Miss Honey's subversive, childlike view. Still, good fun, with several good comic moments.