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Monster House (PG)

Release Date: July 21st, 2006 by Columbia Pictures.
The Voices: Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee, Jon Heder, Kevin James, Nick Cannon, Catherine O'Hara, Fred Willard, Kathleen Turner.
Directed by Gil Kenan.

BASIC PREMISE:, DJ (Musso), Chowder (Lerner) and Jenny (Locke) experience a supernatural adventure when they find a mysterious old house owned by the creepy Mr.Nebbercracker (Buscemi).

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Great CG effects with a nifty use of motion-capture animation to enhance the realism doesn’t compensate for a weak, unimaginative story with dull characters. In the first act, DJ’s parents (Willard and Turner) leave him with a babysitter (Gyllenhaal). Mr.Nebbercracker, a mean neighbor across the street, gets taken away by ambulance after passing out on his lawn. Soon enough, DJ gets creepy phone calls from Mr.Nebbercracker’s house even though no one’s inside. His gothic babysitter and her boyfriend, Bones (Lee) don’t believe him that the house might be haunted. So, he turns to his friend Chowder and, eventually, to Jenny, a girl scout who witnesses strange occurrences in that house. For the rest of the movie, all three of them visit the house to figure out what’s going on—it even swallows one of the characters with a long carpet. Unfortunately, Monster House loses momentum quickly during the second act because the adventure lacks real thrills and surprises. There’s a briefly humorous sequence with two lively cops who check on the kids when they trespass on their neighbor’s lawn. More scenes with them would have helped to add some well-needed humor. In the silly third act, the dark secret behind the supernatural events feels contrived and unimaginative—is it really plausible for a kid to be able to drive a tractor? Some of the imagery and content will probably be too scary and inappropriate for little kids, but the real problem here is that the plot becomes dull for everyone else while non of the characters are remotely memorable.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: None is required or desired.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None, as long as you suspend your disbelief.


IN A NUTSHELL: Great visual effects, but with a mostly weak, unimaginative and contrived story.


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