‘Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism’, written by Georgia Byng, was one of my favourite books at the end of my primary school years. It’s been around for a long time, and so I was surprised to see that it’s now been made into a film, ‘Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism’ (not sure why the name change was needed), which is directed by Dominic Monaghan and Christopher N. Rowley.
Aimed primarily at children aged between 7 and 11, ‘Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism’ tells the story of Molly Moon (Raffey Cassidy), an orphan who lives at a not-very-nice-orphanage run by the definitely-not-very-nice Miss Adderstone (Lesley Manville). One day at the library she comes across a mysterious book on hypnotism, which is sought after by a rather dodgy-looking man in a van. Molly takes the book back to the orphanage where she can keep it hidden, and learns the magic art of hypnotism. With her newfound skill Molly is able to make everything a bit more fun but, after her best friend Rocky gets adopted without her, she has to use her powers to make everything right again.
Cassidy plays a great Molly Moon – surprisingly accurate to how I always imagined her when I read the books as a child. The rest of the characters relied heavily on stereotypes to get themselves across (the evil orphanage owner, the fat kid who bullies everyone, the teen superstar who is a complete brat), but generally the acting is good and young viewers will find it all quite entertaining. Although the cast are generally quite well known, Joan Collins is one of the surprising stars involved, and we also see parts played by Ben Miller and Omid Djalili.
The film starts off wonderfully, with a real sort of magic about it that will easily get the kids engaged with it. It’s got hints of ‘Tracey Beaker’ at the start with the sort of misery the children have to put up with at the orphanage, but there’s also a lot of musical additions thrown in which add to the fun of it all.
However, once Molly gets to London it all starts to go downhill. The original book was very well-written, and the story made lots of sense – we were with Molly the whole way, and her actions all had a reason. I feel like they sort of missed this bit out though during the film, with scenes from this point forward really not making much sense. Almost overnight Molly completely changes character for apparently no reason whatsoever, and Rocky appears to not matter anymore. The film really capitalises on the tween superstar fantasy, and thus loses the integrity of the orphanage scenes of hardship. She’s no longer relatable, but just another young girl wanting to become famous, and getting there with no effort whatsoever (hardly aspirational for kids).
Of course, by the end it’s all fixed and Molly realises what the issue was, but unfortunately this comes long after the point where you start to switch off. It doesn’t help that the confusing plot makes it feel a bit all over the place, and so it’s probably quite hard for little ones to follow.
I’ve got to admit that, after the first third of the film, I felt quite disappointed – as with many screen adaptations, the film is nowhere near as good as the book. It’s still acceptable for a rainy day in with the kids though (there is, of course, an important moral at the end), but I’d always suggest reading the book first so as not to taint the magic of the original story. 2/5
Molly Moon's Incredible Book Of Hypnotism at CeX
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