October 29, 2000 -- "The Little Vampire" is a Disney-like film about Tony Thompson (Jonathan Lipnicki of "Jerry McGuire," and "Stuart Little") a young boy who becomes friends with a family of vampires. Thompson, along with his father and mother are visiting Scotland. Thompson's father is building a golf course there and the young boy feels lonely, out of place, and persecuted on by the local kids.
At night he has a recurring dream of a group of vampires using a magic stone during a ritual involving a comet and the moon. He becomes obsessed with vampires, dressing like them and acting like them. One night, he is visited by a boy vampire, Rudolph (Rollo Weeks), and the two become fast friends. After he meets the rest of the family he begins to understand the meaning of his dreams and how he is linked to their fate.
Rookery (Jim Carter of "Shakespeare in Love"), a vampire slayer, relentlessly hunts the vampires with a specially-equipped vehicle. He is a major roadblock to the efforts of the vampires to escape their centuries-old curse. Heading up the vampire family is the aristocratic Frederick (Richard E. Grant) and Freda (Alice Krige) who has that Vampira thing going. Another girl vampire is Anna (Anna Popplewell) who has a thing for Thompson. Anna makes a funny in-joke reference to a famous line spoken to Humphrey Bogart by Lauren Bacall in "To Have and Have Not."
The vampires in the movie are reformed vampires. They don't drink the blood of humans for fear they will be discovered. Instead, they drink the blood of animals, including cows. That leads to a some very funny scenes with flying vampire cows sporting fangs and glowing eyes. In the tradition of the reformed vampire movement ("Nick Night," later remade as the first two episodes of "Forever Knight," and the current series, "Angel," on TV are examples of this) these are vampires who want to regain their humanity, and their souls. The movie is mostly harmless for kids (it is rated PG), but it does show a pair of dead, staked vampires.
The movie is funny and times and amusing most of the rest of the time. The characters are engaging and so is the story. Anyone who has seen Lipnicki at his scene-stealing best in "Jerry McGuire," knows this kid is cute and that he can act. In this movie, he hits his limits as an actor and he is called on to carry most of the film. Although he struggles, he does a pretty good job of being an unlikely pint-sized hero. Grant and Carter both do good work in this movie as well. The cinematography, art direction and special effects combine to provide a feeling of magic in which anything might be possible. This film rates a C+.
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