Now playing in cinemas nationwide
I will forever confuse Tim and Tom Robbins. I read the synopsis for “City of Ember” and was all YES! Who knew that the guy who wrote “Skinny Legs and All” and “Still Life with Woodpecker” was making a movie – albeit a move who’s title was not among Robbins’ list of books I knew of. And looky here – Bill Murray is in it!
Well turns out, I had read “Tim” for “Tom” and had embarked on an apocalyptic children’s story starring TIM Robbins without my knowing. So let’s get the story straight. “City of Ember” is about a town created by “The Builders” for “when the world ended” powered by a generator that would last for only 200 years. By then whatever chaos had caused the world to end (which is never explained) would have settled down. How to leave the great city of Ember was passed on from mayor to mayor but over the years the directions were lost and as the years ticked down, and Bill Murray became the greedy, canned food-hoarding mayor, Ember fell into shambles and the generator’s hiccups began to occur more and more often.
Lucky for Ember, Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan) finds the directions in her closet (her great, great, etc. grandfather was a Mayor). Unfortunately her little sister has eaten half of them. Together with her friend Doon (Harry Treadaway), Lina sets about solving the soggy chewed up puzzle to find out how to fix the generator and save Ember in a race against time.
Made from a children’s novel, there are a few parts to the film that go unexplained, perhaps due to time constraints. First how and why did the world end? Why wouldn’t the mayor take good care of the directions he knew would later save the entire city? And why are their GIANT bumble bees, beetles, moths and flippered ground hogs with slimy faces roaming around this underground world? There were some lulls in the adventure where I found my mind wandering to those unanswered questions. And where did they get clean water? Was there any ventilation in this underground city?
But for the most part it was good clean fun. I appreciated seeing a leading young actress eager for adventure. I was only a little disappointed that she had to, of course, had a male friend to do all the heavy lifting and wrench-turning. Bill Murray’s timing was (as always) a quirky addition. Tim (not Tom) Robbins, who played Doon’s father, Loris Harrow, played the eccentric inventor well – a perfect combination of cynicism, nostalgia, and secrets – but when asked about those darn enormous beetles also had no answers.
So if you also confuse Tim and Tom note that this is a children’s adventure movie that’s pretty charming, and not at all sexy, so take your kid sister.