Little Vampire, The
An American ankle-biter teams up with a family of Scottish vampires in this mostly lifeless attempt to suck fresh blood out of the popular series of children's books.
Adapted from German author Angela Sommer-Bodenburg's "Little Vampire" novels, the lighthearted fantasy plotline follows a 9-year-old Yank named Tony Thompson (Jonathan Lipnicki) who has recently moved to Scotland with his parents. Haunted by mystical dreams, Tony is having trouble fitting in at school when he befriends a 300-year-old vampire boy named Rudolph (Rollo Weeks). Together the two search for a magical artifact that could free Rollo's persecuted kinfolk from vampirism.
"Jerry Maguire" munchkin Lipnicki, looking suspiciously Harry Potter-esque with his tousled hair and round specs, is able to slide through the lead role on sheer cuteness. That's fortunate because he's not particularly convincing when called upon to shed tears in a big dramatic moment or, most hilariously, register eye-rolling surprise while supposedly absorbing an ancient memory via magic. Veteran thespians Richard E. Grant (TV's "The Scarlet Pimpernel") and Alice Krige (the Borg Queen from "Star Trek: First Contact") do what they can with some weak writing as Rollo's vampire parents.
Uli Edel, making a substantial departure from his racy "Last Exit to Brooklyn" and "Body of Evidence," fails to pull much humor, excitement or anything else out of the material. From the fake-looking sets and special effects to the unimaginative design of elements such as the dumb gizmos used by a vampire-hunter character, the production is a B-movie kid flick all the way. It doesn't help that Edel is saddled with Karey Kirkpatrick and Larry Wilson's run-of-the-mill script, a collection of bad puns and thin plot coincidences.
For any but Sommer-Bodenburg's most devoted young fans, "The Little Vampire" is undead on arrival.