Jean-Pierre Jeunet adapts author Reif Larsen’s imaginative debut about the cross-country travels of a 10-year-old cartographer into a visually stimulating, narratively lonely film about the cross-country adventures of a 10-year-old inventor (Kyle Catlett, Poltergeist). Jeunet is more successful when attempting to approximate the book’s unique design—interstitial animations, charts, graphs, etc.—than when the characters met by T.S. react oddly to his situation. The odd reactions to a runaway 10-year-old force odd performances out of most of the adults, particularly Judy Davis as the Smithsonian employee who gives T.S. the award that spurs him to travel east.
Most of T.S. Spivet feels like the idea of America envisioned by two Frenchmen, which is pretty much what the movie is. An extremely strange third act does little to assist the rather lonesome preceding acts.