The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet

ADVENTURE; 1hr 45min

STARRING: Kyle Catlett, Helena Bonham Carter, Judy Davis, Callum Keith Rennie

Roll wagon roll: Catlett

Perpetual motion is making waves on Montana’s Copper Top Ranch in the 10-year-old guise of precocious inventor Tecumseh Sparrow “T.S.” Spivet (feature newcomer Catlett), whose magnetic wheel has won him the Smithsonian Institute’s exalted Baird Award. Not, of course, that the institute’s pushy G.H. Jibsen (Davis, a fully-fledged hoot) has the slightest idea that her genius du jour is a poker-faced shortstop with a heavy heart: T.S. shares an eye-catching farmhouse with his preoccupied entomologist mother, Dr Claire (Bonham Carter), his distant, cowboy-throwback dad, Tecumseh Elijah (Rennie), his resentful older sister, Gracie (Niamh Wilson), and the ghost of his twin brother, Layton (Jakob Davies), whose death from a gunshot wound while playing with T.S. is beyond anybody’s coping skills.


So guilt-ridden T.S. keeps his triumph to himself, hopping a freight train and hitching to Washington to collect his prize. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s adaptation of Reif Larsen’s 2009 novel pops with 3-D travelogue prettiness en route, along with a trademark Amélie-style whimsy that notches prosaic reality into fairytale terrain. It comes handily sealed with a Happily Ever After, too — T.S. is an instant celebrity, which is its own wacky trip, but his real destination is a broken family healed.