The Secret of Kells is a beautiful movie to look at, and full of enough mysticism, intrigue, adventure, and action to keep pretty much anyone happy. If it kinda loses its way in its last third, that's ok, since it never lets us down in its tremendous artwork. The art is obviously inspired by the Book of Kells, a legendary Irish manuscript of the four Gospels (it's been housed at Trinity College in Dublin since the 1661). But despite its Middle Ages monastery setting, the movie seems to want to sidestep the super religiousness of the actual Book of Kells in favor of a coming-of-age/adventure with quite a bit of Celtic mythology thrown in. That's fine by me, but the story does lose a little of its resonance when they won't address why it's so important our young hero finishes his work on the book.
It's the story of a young monk named Brendan, mesmerized by the mythic story of Brother Aidan, who's writing a book so good that sinners are blinded when they look at it. Brendan's uncle Cellach, the Abbot or head of the monastery, is obsessed with building a giant wall around the city of Kells, which will keep out marauding Vikings. Cellach is also adamant that Brendan not leave the walls of Kells, for the outside world is far too dangerous for him to handle. When the real Brother Aidan shows up unannounced one day, bringing with him his legendary book, Brendan finds a kindred soul who'll help him become a man. Naturally, one of Aidan's firsts requests of Brendan is to travel to the forest outside of Kells and bring back certain berries which he'll use to make ink for his book. While in the forest, Brendan meets the fairy Aisling (although it sure sounds like Ashley when they pronounce it in the movie), who helps him along his way.
However, the thing most people will wake away from this movie is the tremendous animation style. Detailed and basic at the same time, influenced by the style of the illustrations in the Book of Kells, it's traditional 2-d hand drawn animation as I don't remember ever seeing it before. It's very distinctive, I could watch it with the sound off and still be enthralled by the images onscreen. It's simply one of the most visually memorable movies I've seen in the past few years.
I always admire movies that can make their point efficiently, and with the movie being under 80 minutes long, The Secret of Kells certainly does that. With its short run time, involving story, terrific voice acting, and amazing animation, I don't find too much of a reason to not recommend The Secret of Kells.