Although they haven't caught on much in America, in other parts of the world The Adventures of Tintin graphic novels of Belgian comic artist Hergé have been beloved for generations. The intrepid young journalist, his curious dog Snowy, the bumbling inspectors Thompson and Thomson are as well-known as Popeye or Superman in the United States. Now a big American name, Steven Spielberg, has adapted the Tintin story into a rich animated family film. Fast-paced, beautifully filmed, and full of humor, the movie is one of the better animated movies of the year.
Tintin (voiced by Jamie Bell) buys a model of a sailing ship at a street rummage sale. Little does he know that the ship contains a secret message that may be the key to a treasure hidden by the seafaring Haddock family. The nefarious Sakharine (Daniel Craig) will stop at nothing to get the model. But Tintin is just as determined to solve the mystery, and with his dog and the last remaining Haddock (Andy Serkis), he sets off on an adventure that will take him around the world.
The movie holds onto some of the conventions that have made the comic books so popular. While Tintin is the main player, Snowy is having his own adventures in the background that Tintin never sees. Inspectors Thompson and Thomson search incompetently for a pickpocket that Snowy finds in the first scene.
There are plenty of character-driven gags, and little of the snarky one-liners often popular in kids' flicks. True to Spielberg, the action sequences don't let up. Tintin's adventures transition seamlessly from ocean liner to biplane to sand dunes to Moroccan streets. Rated PG for action violence, the movie also depicts old-fashioned vices: Captain Haddock is a hopeless sodden drinker, which figures humorously into the plot. Some characters smoke but there are no wink-wink sexual jokes designed to tickle adult funny bones. It adds up to a fun family movie for the holidays.