The Spiderwick Chronicles opens in a dark laboratory-like room full of insects. Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn) is writing in an old book and is quite obviously frightened.
Eighty years later, a mother (Mary-Louise Parker) and her three children arrive at the old house. Mallory (Sarah Bolger), Simon and Jared (twins both played by Freddie Highmore) are not at all happy to be there. They have had to leave their home in New York, but it is Jared who seems the angriest. He won’t talk and fights constantly.
When they arrive, they find salt on the window sills and the house has strange noises. Things go missing and Jared is blamed. Eventually, while trying to find the source of the noises, Jared finds Arthur Spiderwick’s room. In it is the old book written by Arthur Spiderwick called The Spiderwick Chronicles. Although there is dire warning at the start of the book that it should not be read, he reads it anyway.
The book contains secrets about magical and mythical beings. By reading it, Jared sets off a chain of events that bring out goblins and the ogre Mulgarath (Nick Nolte). Mulgarath is determined to get the book because it will enable him to become so powerful that he will rule the earth. Jared needs to find a way to defeat the ogre and keep his family, and the world, safe.
The supernatural; family conflict; separation from a parent
Most of the violence in this film is not initiated by people. In many scenes, the mythical creatures attack the family violently and the family retaliate. For example:
- Goblins attack the children by scratching and biting, leaving marks.
- Mulgarath tells the goblins to kill Jared’s family.
- Mallory fights the goblins with a sword.
- There is physical fighting between the three siblings.
- Jared appears to stab his father (actually Mulgarath in disguise).
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie contains some mild coarse language and put-downs.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Spiderwick Chronicles is a fantasy adventure featuring computer-generated images of creatures such as goblins and ogres.
The main message is about the need to think before you act and speak, making sure that you do not judge a situation or lay blame until you know the whole story. You could talk with your child about your own family values, and other issues raised in the movie, such as listening to others, trusting others, belief in yourself, and understanding and empathy. Another important issue you could discuss is the children’s separation from their father and Jared’s reaction to it.