Quite cleverly folding the vampire genre into a tale of growing up, Uli Adel always manages to relate even his most fantastic sequences to the anxiety and imagination of a young boy. That young boy is Tony Thompson (Jonathan Lipnicki, who already has quite a following after entertaining performances in "Jerry Maguire" and "Stuart Little"), a nice, sensitive kid who is uprooted from California by his folks and dumped down in a remote corner of Scotland.
Despite his parents being there, Tony is essentially a thoughtful loner who is utterly committed to his belief in vampires and is thus kicked about at school and patted on the head by Mum and Dad at home. Enter (into his bedroom at night) a bat who becomes a vampire-boy seeking Tony's help in changing his family back into mortals. And that's where the buddy-buddy (or kiddie-kiddie) element kicks in.
"The Little Vampire" is, in its old fashioned way (see the "Famous Five" or "Secret Seven" books for further details), a children's film which is happy to let events emerge from one boy's behaviour rather than plaster the screen with effects and obliterate character in the process. Although Lipnicki certainly has enough sad-eyed charisma to hold a scene, none of the other characters are sufficiently full, and therefore memorable, except perhaps Jim Carter as the vampire-hunter, a villain straight from a more innocent era of children's books.
Too many of the scenes rely a bit too often on atmospherics, and the strangeness of the better moments (like red-eyed cows bobbing up and down) should have been spread across the whole picture. More wit would have helped as well. Yet the basic idea which drives this jolly film, along with Lipnicki's charm, is sometimes almost enough.
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.