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Hide and Seek is not the same fun game you might have played as a kid. Instead of running for base, you'll be running for the exit.


Hide and Seek
Dir. John Polsen; writ. Ari Schlossberg; feat. Robert DeNiro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen, Elizabeth Shue (R)

Add Robert DeNiro to a list of past Academy Award winners, including Denzel Washington and Sean Penn, with whom 10-year-old Dakota Fanning has had the opportunity to work in her four-year career. Hide and Seek makes a nice little addition to Fanning's growing résumé, but nothing more.

After his wife commits suicide, psychologist David Callaway (DeNiro) decides the best thing for him and his daughter Emily (Fanning) is to move to the country where they can get away from all the painful memories.

Despite advice from Katherine (Janssen), a friend and colleague who urges David to stay close to home because of Emily's emotional difficulty in coping with her mother's death, father and daughter leave the city to start a new life in a more peaceful environment.

That is, until the gothic Emily begins to find comfort in a new imaginary friend, whom she calls Charlie. As the unseen Charlie is introduced into the story, eerie events begin to happen in the the Callaway home. Emily's behavior and demeanor becomes erratic and dark as her dad tries to discover the true identity of his child's invented visitor.

Fanning's Emily makes The Addam's Family's Wednesday seem like an ever-so-sunny Teletubby, but the popular cutie, who has four other films due out this year, does not deliver until her final scenes.

These scenes, however, are preceded by a terribly slow-paced story, which, much like Emily, is in need of a Prozac boost. It's basic thriller genre fare that kicks into high gear only when the impractical twists are spread on too thick. Plus, it's not much of a guessing game when 20th Century Fox's 30-second trailer spoils the film's only real surprise. Kiko Martinez


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