Movie Mom

Movie Mom


I Am Number Four

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for brief language
Profanity:Some strong language
Nudity/Sex:None
Alcohol/Drugs:None
Violence/Scariness:Intense and sometimes grisly fantasy and battle violence, monsters
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:February 18, 2011

A young, handsome kid has extraordinary special powers vastly beyond the abilities of mere mortals. He is being chased by big, scary, ruthless, and relentless creatures with enormous weapons who have killed numbers One, Two, and Three. He is Number Four.

That’s John Smith (Alex Pettyfer of “Alex Ryder”). But it’s also kind of James Frey, best remembered for being touted and then flayed by Oprah after it was revealed that his memoirs were not exactly true. Frey has now created a best-seller factory, working with grad students in writing programs to produce mega best-sellers. This book is attributed to “Pittacus Lore” but in fact it is the product of Frey and a former graduate student named Jobie Hughes. That may explain the paranoid overlay of the plot and the portrayal of the main character as an unappreciated genius being hunted by powerful evil forces trying to destroy him.

Frey may not have special powers but he has a very good sense of what makes a marketable, if synthetic, story. There’s some Harry Potter, some Percy Jackson, some Buffy, a bit of “Twilight” and even some Superman and Spider-Man, but none of the genuine feeling of any of those books. The idea of a teenager with hidden source of extraordinary ability unseen and unappreciated by the grown-ups is undeniably a compelling one. Teenagers going through their own unsettling and powerful transformations can related to John’s discovering what he is capable of as he fights off the forces of evil. And so, in spite of the pre-fab foundation, there are moments when it is easy to get caught up in the story.

The action scenes are well staged and director D.J. Caruso (“Disturbia”) knows how to create paranoid tension and has a good feel for the way teenagers talk to each other. But Pettyfer does not have the acting ability or screen presence to carry off the a lead role, suffering by comparison to the far more able Timothy Olyphant (as his guardian), Callan McAuliffe (“Flipped”) as a brainy classmate, and Dianna Agron (less chilly than she is as Quinn in “Glee”). It’s likely to please the fans of the book but is too empty at its core to make many new ones.



  • Rach

    We saw this movie yesterday with friends and family. We thourougly enjoyed it. We viewed it as a popcorn movie, which it certainly delivered! My husband thought that it was slow to build up and didn’t understand all the explanations given in the movie. However, I explained to him that this is a trilogy and that the info needed to be there in order to move into the 2nd and 3rd part (although the books are not out yet).

  • Joanie

    Me and the 3 teens did like this, even though they were a bit “not happy” with the amount of swear words. 8 “s” words, for example. My kids are such prudes, way more than me, which makes me more sensitive to this stuff because I want them to enjoy the movie. They did, with only minor remarks about the language. We all love “Twilight” and “Transformers” and this was like a combo of both, and Michael Bay DID produce this one.
    It was fun. We went to the theatre to see “Gnomeo and Juliet” but it was sold out for all shows, so what does that tell you? Not enough family movies out right now, I reckon.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Good for your kids, Joanie! And there will be more family movies coming soon as we get closer to spring break. I hope you do get to see “Gnomeo & Juliet.” No swear words in that one!

  • Rach

    Agree with Joanie, that seems to be issue with quite a few movies, but not so bad today as it was when I was a kid. We got some old movies that were G and PG (made in the 70’s through 80’s). They were made prior to the PG13 rating. Well we were mortified when Adventures in Babysitting has the F word in it and Spaceballs was full of swearing…Airplane had brief nudity! Nell do you have reviews of older movies also? I would like to be able to look them up to prevent any more embarrassing moments (or horrified ones) in front of our kids and their friends! Thanks for your help!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Yes, there are reviews of over 1000 movies on this site and we’re currently working on making the archive even easier to search. If you ever have a question about an older film that you don’t find here, email me at moviemom@moviemom.com.

  • Rach

    Thanks Nell! Appreciate all you do in the movie review realm! We constantly are telling others your site when they are in need of an accurate review!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    You made my day, Rach. Many thanks.

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