Directed by Gil Kenan.
Written by Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab and Pamela Pettler.
Starring Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke and Steve Buscemi.
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 7/18/06
Speaking of fast and furious, the freebies
are coming at a record pace right now, and a free showing of
"Monster House" tonight was perfect because I wanted to see this
movie, but I didn't actually want to pay for it.
I'm glad I didn't, but my thinking is that
the kids will enjoy what has to be one of the scarier "kids" movies
in a while. "Monster House" is exactly what you think it is,
especially if you have seen the trailer: DJ (voiced by Mitchel
Musso) is a kid on the brink of puberty; for the last few months, he
has been spying on the house across the street, most notably the
crotchety old guy that lives there, Mr. Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi).
When DJ's best friend Chowder (Sam Lerner) comes by one day to play
basketball, a loose ball ends up on Nebbercracker's lawn...EXACTLY
the thing that old guy hates about kids, their bad habit of leaving
crap on his lawn. While yelling at DJ and Chowder,
Nebbercracker suffers a heart attack...and soon thereafter, his
empty house adapts the strange habit of eating people that approach
the front door. When a girl selling candy drops by one day
(Spencer Locke) and is almost devoured by the house, DJ, Chowder and
the almost-eaten girl begin to work out a plan that will allow them
to take care of this crazy house for good.
There's no question that the strength of
"Monster House" is the house itself, at least initially; it's a
funny idea that a house would start eating people and no one would
notice, even if it does enjoy attempting to eat little kids, local
cops and unruly boyfriends. The house seemed like it was scary
to the kids in my audience; the scarier part about the script is the
strange number of gross-out jokes included, which seemed high for a
PG-rated Spielberg-produced cartoon. The voice work by the
three child stars is okay; what should have been a highlight was the
large number of cameos by name actors, like Kathleen Turner, Nick
Cannon, Kevin James and Fred Willard...even
"Napoleon Dynamite" star
Jon Heder does a quick bit part, which is probably the best of these
bits, but in general these bits don't entertain as much as I thought
The animation didn't do much to turn me on;
it was so-so. The soundtrack also underwhelmed me; as an
aesthetic work, "Monster House" was very average, especially in a
world where you either have the cool rotoscope work in
Darkly" or the stunning computer animation of
"Cars" to compete
against. The motion-capture techniques in "Monster House" felt
a tiny bit dated to me. Add to this a score that felt like it
was ripped from co-producer Robert Zemeckis' other films and you get
an original storyline that feels familiar because of everything else
that's going on.
Now, that being said, I think that kids will
like "Monster House" because they will get into the main trio of
characters and especially the banter provided by Chowder in moments
of peril. The Jenny and DJ characters are just not very
interesting, but they are in enough danger that little Bobby and
Sally (i.e., your kids!) will be happy to be along for the ride.
The kids seemed to get enough of the gross-out jokes and the
occasional dead body to be happy...but, the parents didn't appear to
be as thrilled about the movie as a whole.
Eh. Not great, but so far the 'toons
haven't grabbed me in 2006.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard