Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Written by Hombre Divertido

Well worth the ninety-one minute stay.

Robert Zemeckis and Steven Speilberg (co-producers with Jason Clark, Jack Rapke, and Steve Starkey) have brought us a fun summer movie for the whole family. Well, maybe not the whole family, as the imagery may be a bit much for children under seven or eight, but great fun for the rest of us.

In this story, no adults believe three youths' assertion that a neighboring residence is a living creature that means them harm. With Halloween approaching, the trio must find a way to destroy the structure before innocent trick-or-treaters meet ghastly ends.

This film takes risks, and though they don’t always pay off, the audience can’t help but appreciate the effort.

Potential Spoiler Warning: The following paragraphs may contain plot points.

The story is risky as it avoids the typical rational explanation ending, and instead explains that the house is actually haunted. This works as the details are provided in a manner that even the youngest viewer can understand and enjoy.

Where the risks did not completely pay off were in the animation where processes continue to evolve. This film (viewed in 3D) was visually exciting, but makes a drastic transition midway through the film. During the first half of the film, you can’t help but feel like this could have easily been a live action film, as it certainly feels like it. Once our Monster House comes to life, you appreciate that it is indeed animated, to a point. The more alive our house becomes, the busier the film gets. As we reach the climax of the film, the house becomes mobile, and the story becomes secondary to the effects, which is too bad.

The three-dimensional aspects added to the visual appeal of the film, though it lacked the usual effect of things coming out at the audience.

The vocal performances in this film are spot on. Mitchel Musso (DJ), Sam Lerner (Chowder), Spencer Locke (Jenny) play the children to perfection, but it is Steve Buscemi as the crotchety neighbor Mr. Nebbercracker who steals this film. The supporting cast is outstanding as well with Jason Lee as the babysitter’s (Maggie Gyllenhaal) boyfriend Bones (he’s in a band), and an all-too-brief vocal appearance by Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) that left us wanting more.

Judging from the numerous previews prior to the showing of Monster House, there are numerous 3-D animated films headed our way in coming months. Hopefully, producers will remember that the story is as important as the animation. Successful ventures of the past have included both great animation, and storylines that contain plots that kids can follow and humor that adults can appreciate.

Recommendation: From the basement to the attic, Monster House works on many levels. Catch it in 3-D if you can, but catch it either way.