NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by ctsquared. who says..."This movie takes the popular 5 book series by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black and compresses it into a compact and very entertaining 90 minute movie. That being said, this movie was a lot of fun. Fans of the “The Chronicles of Narnia” will feel right at home."
The movie starts in the attic of Spiderwick Mansion. The owner, Arthur Spiderwick is seen feverishly working on a book that he has been working (called a “Field Guide”) to the Fairy world that has he has made his life’s work. As the credits roll, you see that he seems to be under attack by an unseen force and his fate is unknown.
We flash ahead 80 years to see the Grace family moving into that same , now dilapidated old mansion that mom Helen’s (Mary Louise Parker) great aunt Lucinda (Arthur’s daughter) left to her. Helen has split from her husband, hence the move. She has an older daughter, Mallory (Sarah Bolger), who is a fencing whiz (important later). She also has two twin sons (both played by Freddie Highmore). Simon is the bookish one, who goes with the flow and Jared is the rebellious one who clearly does not want to move and prefers his absent father. While Helen, Mallory and Simon want to make a go of their new situation, Jared would rather be back in New York. On their first night it’s established that he (Jared) gets blamed for belongings of the other kids going missing. When his Dad calls Helen, he overhears their tense conversation and gets to speak to his dad. His dad says that they will get together soon, though it is clear to everyone in the family (except Jared) that the dad has no intention of doing so.
Jared hears noises in the kitchen and starts poking the walls looking for the source, punching holes in the wall, which doesn’t please the others one bit as they think he is just acting up about having to move. The three kids start cleaning up where they hear the noises as well and ultimately make a bigger hole which turns out to be a dumb waiter that contains the missing kids belongings among other things. One of these is a key with an “S” on the top. Mallory and Simon leave Jared to clean up. The story picks up and I am going to go into only a brief description so as not to give anything away.
Jared gets in the dumb waiter and winds up in the attic, where he finds Arthur Spiderwick’s study . The key he found opens a chest, where he finds the Field Guide Arthur was working on, which has an ominous note to leave it alone and not open it. Since the movie would end in 20 minutes if he listened Jared opens the Field Guide and starts reading about the Fairy world Arthur had studied. He meets Thimbletack (Martin Short) the house's “brownie” . A brownie is something that does the housework. But if it is angry, it becomes a boggart, a mischievous creature who tries to scare Jared into leaving things alone. From the guide, Jared learns that Thimbletack loves honey and that giving him a lot of it changes him to his “brownie” state.
Jared tries to convince Mallory and Simon about what he has discovered, but neither of them pays him any mind. Jared continues to study the guide on his own, and learns that the Field Guide is sought after by the villainous ogre Mulgrarath who will be able to take over the world if he gets the Field Guide. Jared learns that Mulgarath’s evil minions lurk unseen outside the mansion. The mansion is protected by a ring of toadstools that surround it and form a barrier (think force field) that keeps them out. Thimbletack gives Jared a “seeing stone” which enables him to see the ogres no one else sees.
Jared sees Simon being carried away by these unseen bad guys. He takes off after them and tracks them into the woods where he sees Simon being held captive. It is here he meets a hobgoblin named Hogsqueal (Seth Rogen). His family was killed by Mulgarath and he has vowed revenge and agrees to help Jared, by spitting in his face and giving him the ability to see Mulgarath. The problem is that Hogsqueal is easily distracted by birds, which is a favorite delicacy of his. When he sees one, he forgets what he is doing and is not much help. Jared and Hogsqueal see Mulgarath (Nick Nolte) demand the Field Guide from Simon (who does not have it). Jared rescues Simon (who now believes him about the ogres) and they are chased by the Mulgarath’s henchmen back to Spiderwick Mansion where they behind the protective ring just in time. Mallory comes out to see what’s going on. She is also almost captured by the ogres, but Jared is able to toss her the seeing stone and she is able to fight the bad guys off with the fencing saber (which she carries around with her all the time of course…. ). Hogsqueal appears again to offer to help. He spits in the faces of Mallory and Simon so they can see the ogres as well, and then he goes off to chase more birds.
Mallory, Simon, and Jared go inside and talk about what to do. They find out that Lucinda is in a rest home in the nearby town. They come up with a plan where Mallory and Jared will take a secret tunnel Thimbletack tells them about into town. Simon and Thimbletack stay behind to distract the ogres and prepare to defend the house. This involves making a potion made up pasta sauce and other ingredients listed in the Field Guide. Thimbletack insists that Jared leave the Field Guide at the mansion and Jared agrees.
However the ogres see Mallory and Jared and give chase (a great sequence). They are pursued by a huge ogre and are able to climb up a ladder into town. Just as the ogre is about to get them they get help from an unlikely source (I won’t spoil it, but the movie trailer shows it). They get to the rest home and meet Lucinda (Joan Plowright). It turns out Lucinda is the rest home because of the trauma she suffered. 80 years previous, she was almost carried off by the same ogres the kids saw. Arthur was able to save her, but in doing so was carried off by elves. It turns out Jared has brought the guide with him after all and asks Lucinda what to do. Lucinda tells them that if Arthur destroys the Field Guide, then Mulgarath will be defeated. She said a griffin will take them to Arthur.
Just then, they are attacked by Mulgarath’s minions and are able to fight them off. However, in doing so, they attract the attention of the local authorities and Helen . Also, in the struggle, the Field Guide gets damaged and a few pages fall into the hands of Mulgarath.
Mallory and Jared are driven home by Helen who is very upset with them because she thinks they are rebelling about the move. They try to explain what’s happening but she doesn’t want to listen. Frustrated, Jared said that is why Dad left and that he hates her and doesn’t want to stay with her.
Back at the house, Mallory, Simon, Jared and Thimbletack discover the missing pages that Mulgarath has gotten reveal that the mansion is vulnerable that night when there is a full moon. At this point, Mallory and Simon explain to Jared the real reason for Helen and their Dad’s break up. Their dad has left Helen for another woman. Knowing how close Jared was to him, Helen has kept that a secret. Jared realizes his Dad was lying to him all along (REALLY IMPORTANT LATER!).
The kids decide that Mallory and Jared will summon the griffin to take them to Arthur. Using an incantation from the Guide, the Griffin Lucinda told them about appears. It takes Mallory, Simon and Jared to the elf world where they meet Arthur, who is still alive and well and unchanged from when he vanished 80 years ago. While Mallory and Simon seem to fall under the spell of the elves, Jared and Arthur are able to talk. Arthur tells Jared that he cannot return with them, but since Jared has read the Guide he has everything he needs to know. Mallory, Simon and Jared have to escape the elves to get back home. Arthur distracts the elves by using a fake Field Guide to get their attention. The griffin is able to take Mallory, Simon and Jared back home, just in time to see Helen returning from work, and the evil ogres beginning their attack. Thanks to seeing Hogsqueal again, who spits in her eyes, Helen finally sees for herself what the children are talking about. Hogsqueal then takes off to chase more birds (my son who watching the movie with me said, “He is really annoying!” LOL).
In the exciting climactic sequence, the Grace Family and the ogres battle inside the mansion. The Graces are holding their own, but it’s evident that they don’t have much time. Finally, they retreat to the kitchen, where they put the remaining potion Simon and Thimbletack made into the oven, where they hit the gas. The Graces hide in the cupboard and lure the ogres in. When all of the ogres are inside Jared lights a match and the oven explodes with the contents killing all the ogres….. and leaving a large pasta sauce stained mess.
It seems all is well, when there is a knock on the door. Walking through the door is the long absent father Richard Grace (Andrew McCarthy). Richard is happy to see everyone, but Helen is very suspicious, asking what he is doing there. Jared explains to Richard what has happened and shows him the Field Guide. Richard does not believe all that has happened and asks to see it. Jared is about to hand it to him, but first asks, “Don’t you have to say something to me?” Richard looks at him and thinks for a moment while Helen, Mallory, and Simon all look on quizzically. Richard says to Jared, “I love you.” Knowing now that it’s a lie, Jared says, “Wrong Answer!” and stabs Richard instead. “Richard” morphs into Mulgarath, who turns into an even larger ogre who demands the book. Jared runs away to the attic and then up the to the roof, with Mulgarath in hot pursuit.
Jared finally seems to be cornered with nowhere to go. He tosses the guide in the air. Mulgarath turns into a raven who takes the book in his beak just before it hits the ground. He starts to fly off when Hoqsqueal suddenly appears, and since Mulgarath is now a bird, eats him (and the Field Guide). With that, everything returns to normal and all traces of the battle (and collateral damage) vanish. Hogsqueal thanks the Graces for their “help”.
Jared has a heart to heart with Helen and apologizes for his harsh words earlier and that no longer misses his father. Helen is overjoyed and the two hug.
In the epilogue we see Helen, Simon, and Jared bringing Lucinda home to Spiderwick Mansion. Since the ogres are gone, she can return. She has a tearful reunion with Thimbletack. Suddenly, they hear something outside and see Arthur coming towards them, surrounded by the elves. Arthur said that he was allowed to return and visit, but since he is actually 127, he cannot stay in the present or he will turn to dust. Lucinda decides to go with him instead and is transformed into the Lucinda of her youth. As Lucinda and Arthur are taken back to the Elf Word, the Grace family, now a happy unit goes inside and the story ends….
Fans of the series should enjoy the movie very much. A Warning to fans of the series though. Some characters from the books are not in the movie and the focus is primarily on one of the 3 children (Jared), where in the books the three had more of an equal role in fighting Mulgarath.