*½/**** Image B- Sound B- Extras B-
starring Macaulay Culkin, Christopher Lloyd, Ed Begley, Jr., Mel Harris
screenplay by David Casci, David Kirschner, Ernie Contreras
live-action director Joe Johnston, animation director Maurice Hunt
by Walter Chaw Tailor-made as a public service announcement for going to the library and reading the classics, The Pagemaster makes up for what it lacks in grace with an admirable and perhaps misplaced faith in its audience. Clearly intended as an introduction to discussion rather than a particularly entertaining animated film, it becomes the role of the parents with The Pagemaster to point out the references it makes along the way: Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Melville's Moby Dick, Shelley's Frankenstein, Verne's 20,000 Leagues, Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Swift's Gulliver's Travels. The extent to which a parent is able to fulfill this obligation is the extent to which The Pagemaster is worthwhile; using this film as an eighty-minute babysitter-cum-opiate negates any possible positive effect conferred by the picture--raising the question, clearly, of how best to approach criticism of the piece.