What a refreshing film this is! It's unlike any kids' movie I've ever seen. The story is weird, the characters are wonderfully written and played, and somehow the whole thing comes out with a healthy dose of respect for the characters and the viewer's intelligence, in spite of the weirdness.
It probably helped that the novel's author was directly involved in development of the screenplay. There is an internal logic to all that is on screen that indicates a Great Mind has been at work here, sharpening and honing the story so well that it makes sense to viewers (like me) who have not read the book.
I love the characters and the performances in the movie. My favorite: Jon Voight. This guy has nailed the "crazy evil guy" so well that I think he might be able to give Christopher Walken a run for his money.