The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
It is a great sadness that a witty and graceful prose stylist like Ludwig Bemelmans should today be remembered primarily for his children's books about Madeline. His works should be in every bookstore, somewhere near Waugh and Thurber, and studied by anyone who wants to learn how to put a sentence together without any nails.
Still, to have a degree of immortality is a blessing, and today there are little girls (and some boys) all over the world who can recite for you the opening lines of Bemelmans' first book about Madeline: In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines, Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.
Bemelmans illustrated the books himself--made the drawings, indeed, for many of his books, which involved sophisticated but penniless European exiles who found themselves in such unfamiliar places as South American palaces and Manhattan hotels. There is a prejudice against adult books with illustrations; readers generally put them down with a sniff. In the case of Bemelmans, they are missing some of the slyest and most seductive writing of the century.
But the riches of Bemelmans are years in the future for the intended audience for "Madeline,'' a family movie that does a surprisingly good job of using real actors and locations and making them look and feel like the books on which they are based.