Lionel Jeffries’ 1970 The Railway Youngsters is ‘Tea & Crumpets: The Film’, a heat, likeable, jolly jape that includes plummy children waving on the 9:15 to London, iced buns, paper chases and Bernard Cribbins flitting between comedy and pathos, all wrapped up in surprisingly well timed issues about downsizing and being sort to immigrants. The presence of OG Railway Youngster Jenny Agutter, reprising her function as Bobbie on this more durable however nonetheless kid-friendly re-spin, suggests this can be a legacy sequel — a ‘Railway Youngsters: Maverick’, when you like — however whereas Morgan Matthews’ movie embraces plot cores, thematic concepts and visible motifs from the primary movie, it principally does its personal factor narratively.
The movie’s smartest determination is to find the kids-have-larks-in-the nation gambit inside the evacuation of kids from main cities throughout World Battle II, including a tangible undercurrent of worry that’s maintained all through (it additionally dovetails neatly with Agutter’s age). So mature Lily (Beau Gadsdon), headstrong Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and cheeky scamp Ted (Zac Cudby) are packed off to Oakworth and brought in by head instructor (and Bobbie’s daughter) Annie (Sheridan Smith), her son Thomas (Austin Haynes) changing into quick buddies together with his new housemates. The primary half-hour or so is a likeable set of hi-jinx — shenanigans with chickens, mud, secret hideouts and run-ins with locals who chuck conkers and coal — which are elevated by means of the chemistry between Smith and the younger actors. Issues take a extra dramatic flip when the gang discovers Abe (KJ Aikens), a younger, injured African-American GI who spins an unconvincing line about being on a secret mission. With a wink to Bryan Forbes’ Whistle Down The Wind, the children assist the mysterious stranger with out the information of the grown-ups.
It’s Beau Gadsdon, younger Jyn Erso from Rogue One, who offers the movie a charismatic centre.
The nods to the unique are delicate — the primary look of Agutter coming down the hill is framed, flowers within the foreground, straight out of the 1970 model; Johnny Douglas’ authentic theme will get an airing in Martin Phipps and Ed Farmer’s massive, pleasurable rating — and the movie doesn’t share a lot of the unique’s curiosity and really feel for the golden age of steam (this could possibly be referred to as ‘The Railway Siding Youngsters’). Floating across the fringes, Agutter’s Bobbie is believably a former suffragette (there’s a dialog in regards to the lack of girls in Whitehall that comes out of nowhere) and Tom Courtenay is a heat presence as Bobbie’s Churchill-impersonating brother-in-law, Uncle Walter.
It lacks something that really excites and delights, a few of it’s too on the nostril, and the climax devolves into kids-saving-the-day 101 that performs in opposition to among the earlier seriousness. However the filmmaking is well-crafted, Danny Brocklehurst’s screenplay provides some grit and, following on from X+Y, Matthews will get good performances from his younger actors. KJ Aikens is interesting as Abe, but it surely’s Beau Gadsdon, younger Jyn Erso from Rogue One, who offers the movie a charismatic centre, by turns flinty and susceptible, child-like and clever, completely capturing the midway home of adolescence.