It’s Alive!

by Alan Rapp on July 21, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Monster House
  • IMDB: link

monster-house-posterYou want to know where Hollywood sees its money coming from?  Take a minute to ponder the following.  Five years ago this film would have debuted in October.  Now it’s put out in mid-summer so the DVD can be ready for Halloween?  To paraphrase The Buggles – “Has DVD killed the theatrical film?”

When a particularly cranky and evil old man (Steve Buscemi) has a heart attack and is rushed to the hospital, his house seems to take a life all its own taking revenge on the children of the neighborhood who it holds responsible for the situation.  With only days left before Halloween, it’s left to three young children to stop the evil monster house before it can devour all the young trick-or-treaters.

DJ (Mitchel Musso) is the brave one and Chowder (Sam Lerner) is the dumb but entertaining best friend.  They team-up with smart girl Jenny (Spencer Locke), who they barely save from the house’s hunger.  But as they battle the house they learn its deep dark secrets and find there’s more to the story than they realized.

The movie takes the view of adults being completely unaware and unbelieving of the situation.  Niether of DJ’s parents (Catherine O’Hara and Fred Willard), nor DJ’s babysitter (Maggie Gyllenhaal) or her boyfriend (Jason Lee), nor even the local cops (Kevin James and Nick Cannon), believe the yarn these kids spin.  Okay…but when the house actually rips through town later in the film’s climax wouldn’t some adult notice?  Are we in Sunnydale?

I’m not a big fan of this style of animation (used previously in The Polar Express).  The detail to the setting is amazing and it works very well on the house itself, but has problems with human characters that come out looking like barely living G.I. Joe figures or Barbie dolls with some hastily applied rubber hair.  If the characters had been something other than human (the animation seems to work better on animal characters) I might have enjoyed myself a little more.

For a kids film it works pretty well though adults may finds some logic gaps exasperating at times.  I’d probably keep small children away from this one as the film does have moments that could be much too frightening to younger kids.  A hearty eight year-old, for me, would be the youngest to whom the film is aimed – still interesting. and creepy. and cool.  I’m not sure what older teenagers and parents will think though.  It’s much more a kids film than a full family flick.  Not as good as early animated entries this year like Cars and Over the Hedge.  Still, the kids will be entertained.

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