Jan. 21 2009, Published 8:46 a.m. ET

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(Warner Bros. Pictures)

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren

Finally, a movie promoting reading! Inkheart, based on the best-selling novel by Cornelia Funke, is all about the magic of the written word. Brendan Fraser plays Mortimer “Mo” Folchart, who has an unusual gift: When he reads aloud, the characters literally come to life. The problem is, for every creature summoned, a real person disappears into the book’s pages. That’s what happened to Mo’s wife, Resa, nine years earlier, and why he and daughter Meggie (Bennett) are always searching the picturesque countryside and dusty used bookshops for the same rare book, called, of course, Inkheart. But when it turns out that Meggie has her dad’s gift (she reads The Wizard of Oz and gets herself a Toto!), Capricorn — one of the movie’s more villainous characters, played by Lord of the Rings’ Andy Serkis — kidnaps her to force her to bring back the Shadow, the book’s most terrifying creature. The cast includes Helen Mirren — clearly having a ball — Paul Bettany and Jim Broadbent, and while the movie may be a little short on reason and logic, younger audiences will most likely be thrilled... and may even ask to read the book.

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