As the little D. and I walked out of Stardust, I said, "Well, that's a 10. I thought it was a ridiculously entertaining movie." At first his reaction was "Huh? that good?" and then he allowed as how he thought it was good, too. He is somewhat stingy with praise.
Stardust is probably the best of the movies I have seen with my son, most of which are formulaic (Eragon), overloaded with special effects (Transformers), trying too hard to be hip and funny (anything by Dreamworks) or marginally entertaining (too many to name.) I do, however, grit my teeth and go see them for his sake.
Stardust was an extremely pleasant exception. Based on the novella of the same name by Neil Gaiman, and directed by Matthew Vaughn, it has all the elements of the classic fantasy story... a Quest, a likable young hero (Charlie Cox), evil witches (four of them, Michele Pfeiffer being the most evil,) villainous characters (an airship captain (Robert De Niro) and several unsavory brothers who vie for the kingdom of Stormhold) and, unexpectedly, a true love story with the unlikely female star being, indeed, a real star...a fallen one, that is, in the shape of the beautiful, injured and cranky Claire Danes.
So this is not just for the kiddies; in fact, as it's rated PG-13, the several violent deaths may not sit well with younger kids; they may, however, depending on their predilections, relish the restrained but effective special effects, the periodic bloody reading of entrails that the witches use to predict the future, the intense suspense with attendant music and the many plot twists.
One of which is definitely for the adults...De Niro as a brutal and macho airship captain who, as it turns out, is not at all what he appears to be; his surprisingly campy performance, along with the mobster voice, steals the show.
The acting is uniformly good; Cox's character shows the full transformative range from gawky and lovelorn to heroic and loving. Pfeiffer's many mood swings and extreme changes of appearance between a weathered old hag and a beautiful young woman are a pleasure; Danes' performance is quite good in spite of her tendency to overdo the facial expressions, and her confession of love may bring tears to your eyes (even if that confession is being addressed to a rat;) and the others fill the bill ably.
And...it's also quite funny. Not in the snide way that many such movies are...nudge, nudge, wink wink (as the Pythons used to say,) here's a joke that will go over the kiddies' heads (though there are a couple of those,) but genuine humor that relieves tension.
In light of my previous kid-movie reviews, the one thing I could've been disappointed about was how white the cast was; no pretense at diversity here, blondness (literal or not) reigns. But is that any better than the Dreamworks/Pixar/Disney casting where a stereotypical person of color is used as a humor-inducing foil? Hard to say.