Movie Review: Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life – Perfect for Family Movie Night

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Based on the beloved children’s novel by Wendy Mass, the film, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life tells the story of a 12-year old boy, living in New York with his mother.  His father died before the age of 40 but he left for Jeremy a mysterious wooden box with the words, “The Meaning of Life – for Jeremy Fink to open on his 13th birthday.”  The box is very unusual and has four different locks.  The special way it was made makes it impossible to smash it open without destroying the contents.  Four locks… and no keys.

Jeremy’s neighbor and best friend, Lizzy, helps him to search for ways to find the keys.  But is the secret in the journey?  You’ll have to watch the movie to see!

The film, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, stars Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino, as Jeremy’s mother and Emmy Award winner Joe Pantoliano as one of the people he encounters on his adventure.  Maxwell Beer plays the young Jeremy Fink and Ryan Simpkins stars as his friend Lizzy.

My Take

I loved the message of this movie.  What is finally revealed is truly beautiful and something each one of us needs to remember.  I didn’t find the quality of the production to be the same level as a hit theater movie, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the film.  Rosie, my six year old daughter, is too young to appreciate the movie but she was able to watch it – it is family friendly.  I would recommend it for eight year olds and up.

One of my favorite things in the movie was the references to children’s literature.  Jeremy’s mom is a librarian and she uses children’s classics like Little Prince and the Giving Tree to teach Jeremy to understand his own feelings.

In an interview with the writer and director, Tamar Halpern, he was asked these questions:

Q:  Why do you think kids will like this film?

Tamar Halpern:  “Since the book has such a huge following (half a million copies sold on Amazon alone), there’s no doubt the film will have a following.  For kids who haven’t read the book, I think they’ll be drawn in by the sweet, honest tone of the film, the comedic relationship between Jeremy and Lizzy, and the stop motion animation that represents Jeremy’s inner world.  Some kids’ movies try to talk over kids’ heads and be snarky, or make adult-themed jokes.  I wrote the script to be honest, like the book, but with a level of comedy that’s entertaining to kids and adults. Ultimately, we are rooting for Jeremy to grow up so he and Lizzy can stay friends, just like we hope to keep our childhood friends even though we all change. This film speaks to that very relevant topic for kids, along with the larger themes of grief and joy.  I think the film is a really fun ride that has an incredible amount of heart, just like the book.”

Q:  Why do you think parents will like the film?

Tamar Halpern:  “The values in this film are firm without being heavy handed and they relate to adults as well as to kids: enjoy life, have gratitude for those who love you, even if they’re not physically with you. View life as an adventure and be open hearted to good people.  The surprises life can bring are here for us to revel in and learn from.  We have the choice to embrace life fully and sometimes all of us – parents included – need to be reminded!”

Phase 4 Films  has announced that the DVD, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life will be released on DVD, on demand, and digital copy on March 6, 2012.  The DVD is loaded with special features, including cast interviews, deleted scenes, bloopers, a limited edition embossed o-card with glitter spotting, and a downloadable audio reading by author Wendy Mass of the book’s first chapter.  The film is rated PG with a run time of 88 minutes.  The suggested retail price for the DVD is $29.99 although it is available for preorder at right now for $12.99.  It would be a perfect choice for a family movie night!

For more information about Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, please visit,  or @Phase4Films.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  All opinions are my own unless otherwise stated.  I was sent a copy of the DVD for review purposes.

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