Movie Review

Madeline

MPAA Rating: PG for momentary language

Reviewed by: Dave Rettig
CONTRIBUTOR

Good
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Pre-Teens
Genre:
Comedy
PG

Starring: Frances McDormand, Nigel Hawthorne, Hatty Jones, Ben Daniels, Arturo Venegas, Chantal Neuwirth, Kristian de la Osa / Director: Daisy von Scherler Mayer / Released by: Tri-Star/Sony

For three generations, children and adults alike have enjoyed the simple verse of Ludwig Bemelman’s Madeline. Now today’s generation can experience “Madeline” on the big screen. Madeline (Hatty Jones) is a mischievious orphan girl living with eleven other girls under the supervision of Miss Clavel (Frances McDormand). All is peaceful in the ivy covered house, until the girls' benefactor Lady Covington (Stephane Audran) passes away. Now Lord Covington (Nigel Hawthorne) wishes to sell the school house, and it’s up to Madeline, her friends, and Miss Clavel to save the day.

“Madeline” is a charming story drawn from the pages of Ludwig Bemelman’s children books. The characters are brought to life wonderfully on the big screen. The story is simple and predictable, much like the books the film is based on. Overall, the film is true to the vision of Bemelman’s Madeline. Although older children may find the story slow paced, “Madeline” is very enjoyable.

“Madeline” is the cleanest, most wholesome film I have seen in the last two years. I could not find a single incident of morally offensive material (save for two instances of “damn” used as an exclamation). There is just a touch of humanist spirit (“I can do anything” becomes Madeline’s mantra and some of the characters are not “bad” just “misunderstood”) and the prayer life of the characters is feeble; however, the fact that a movie would portray a praying character is nothing less than a miracle! I enjoyed watching a film without wincing once!

I enthusiastically recommend “Madeline”. The story is simplistic but the moral content is so redeeming that I cannot help but praise this film. Take your kids to “Madeline” and then share the wonderful series of books as well!

Year of Release—1998

Viewer Comments
some anti-christian material
My daughter and I follow the Madeline books, however when we read the movie reviews for Christian parents I was amazed at what was left out by these reviewers. For instance, what about the scene when the Pepito, the neighbor boy, dresses up like a demon and scares the girls? How about the prayer life of the girls? Or the scene in the museum with all of the ancient egyptian art? Or the Idiots Popopov? I’m confused, how does the Scripture go?? “Whatever is pure, lovely and right?? focus your mind on these things…” I agree, Hattie, the girl who plays Madeline, is absolutely charming and cute, but couldn’t we, as parents, find other things to spend our money on instead of supporting these anti-Christian themes?? Try a Vegie Tale!!
—N. Puckett
overall sweet, but unnecessary cursing
Overall, a sweet movie. I enjoyed it with a friend and our girls, aged 3, 6, and 9. However, the movie contained unnecessary cursing and one instance of using God’s name in vain, although in French, which may make it more palatable to some, although God knows His name in all languages, and has commanded us not to use it lightly.
—Lori, age 45
a must see
I also loved Madeline and so did my four children. I cannot have chicken for dinner now without it being called Fred! A must see!
—Robin, age 30
for all to enjoy
My husband and I took our two seven-year-old granddaughters to see the movie; what a hit! It stuck to the book series and brought it even more alive. One of the granddaughters asked her mother to take her so that she could see it again. Madeline is a movie that all Christians can enjoy, no matter what their ages. Support this one, folks, instead of the Disney drivel.
—Anon.
beware…
One parent’s review: “Madeline shows total disregard for authority, she lies, calls adult names, there was cursing, disrespect, the nun was cheating, the cook was shown drinking, there was constant dissension among the girls, and there was an atmosphere of fear in more than one scene… stick to the books!”
—M. Shull
“the sweetest movie”
This was the sweetest movie. It was so nice to be able to go to a movie theater with my 4 children (ages 7,8,9 and 10) and allow them to sit anywhere in the theater and not worry about them seeing anything questionable. The movie was very true to the stories in the books, even carried the book stories into the movie theme. My kids asked if we could buy the video when it was released and I am looking forward to having it in our home. “Madeline” is a sweet story that is timeless!
—Debi, age 34
We went and saw “Madeline” over the weekend. Terrific movie… even drew a tear from my eye. A solid 10.
—Mike Marando
not for under 6 years of age
One rainy day I took my six year old and four year old twins to “Madeline” since I was told that the PG rating was no big deal. The six year old loved it (and I enjoyed it also!) but the four year olds were scared and couldn’t follow the story very well. “Where are they going Mom? Why did he do that?” They are not seasoned movie-goers either so that might have had something to do with it but I would recommend this movie to the 6 and over crowd.
—Vibhu and Julia Sharma
hammer and sickle?
The savior of the school is sure to be a pleasure to the feminists and Socialists. The purchasing Ambasador turns out to be a woman. Look closely and you will see a hammer and sickle pin on her lapel. Why does Hollywood have to have a Communist Female be the savior? Other than that, the movie is pretty good for the younger set and they probably won’t even notice the details. They did deviate from the book, Madeline is an orphan here. Wasn’t there a Papa in the book?
—Karen Manning, age 39
I thought “Madeline” was an excellent movie! I was so full of emotions throughout. I even cried because of the things the poor girls were having to face. I thought it was funny and creative. I loved how the girls worked together to save their school. Yes, they were rude and it was wrong to pull the pranks, but it was so funny. I loved all the girls and I laughed an awful lot during the movie. I went with my parents and my four year old sister and I thought I was going to be very bored but I was surprised to find that “Madeline” actually appealed to me as an adult! One thing that I was annoyed with was that, while the beginning is quite accurate with the book, during the movie the girls didn’t say “We love our bread, we love our butter, but most of all we love each other”! This only irked me a little cause I used to love these stories as a child and I missed this well remembered phrase, but I AM glad that there was at least a prayer, futile as it may have been, instead of a simple mad dash for the food. I highly reccomend “Madeline” for any family!
—Ashley Michelle, age 19