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Monster House

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Newcomer Gil Kenan’s “Monster House” – no, it’s NOT a Steven Spielberg or Robert Zemeckis film, they simply just opened their wallets to it – is technically dazzling but could use some home improvement in the story department.


Mitchel Musso, Spencer Locke, Sam Lerner, Nick Cannon, Jason Lee, Jon Heder, Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal

Anyone got a tin of nails and punnet of paint? Something needs another coat.

Newcomer Gil Kenan’s “Monster House” – no, it’s NOT a Steven Spielberg or Robert Zemeckis film, they simply just opened their wallets to it – is technically dazzling but could use some home improvement in the story department.

The basic blueprint is a story about two pre-pubescent boys, DJ (Mitchel Musso) and Chowder (Sam Lerner) who discover that old man Nebbercracker’s (Steve Buscemi) house across the street is not just haunted, it is possessed.

During their neighborhood watch, the boys meet hot tweener Jenny (Spencer Locke) while she is going door to door extorting the neighbors as part of her school fund raising campaign. The three pre-adults steal away into the flesh-eating house next door and much hilarity is, well, attempted. Of course, the house is on its best behavior in the presence of authority figures and it has a delicate vomit reflex. The big climax culminates with the house, using trees for feet, actually chases the kids down the street. There goes the neighborhood. Hmmm.

Who is the audience for this movie?! In attempting to grovel for too wide a demographic, the script is cluttered with moments too sophomoric for adults and others inappropriate or too frightening for kids. One moment DJ and Chowder pee in bottles, the next moment they are phonetically likening the uvula to female anatomy. The material that made cartoons like Looney Toons appealing to both adults and children utilized double entendre that worked on various levels. And oh yeah, they were – at the risk of being tomatoed – actually funny.

Interestingly, the only character I felt for was Nebbercracker, who sacrifices his beloved house for the safety of the neighborhood and the freedom of his dead wife’s soul. The other characters lacked, well, character – making them about as likable as a second mortgage.

Animation technology continues to break new ground and this movie is no exception. “Monster House” utilizes the latest in motion capture and digital 3D animation. Perhaps it was the lush rendering and filmic camera moves with photorealistic depth that made me expect smoother animation from the characters instead of digital puppetry. Or perhaps Zemeckis and Speilberg’s involvement caused me to expect greater depth and storytelling craftsmanship. Ultimately, this movie could have benefited from an extreme home makeover before being put on the market.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clare Bath

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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