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Overall Rating
4.03

Awesome: 37.5%
Worth A Look40.38%
Average: 13.46%
Pretty Bad: 4.81%
Total Crap: 3.85%

10 reviews, 44 user ratings


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Monster House
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by Matt Seaver

"Surprisingly pretty and scary."
4 stars

Starting from a kid’s horror perspective, “Monster House” has everything going against it. It’s done in CGI, which means things aren’t going to be realistic, so that reduces how scary they can really be. It’s also done via motion capture, which “Polar Express” demonstrated as being very lifelike movements, but sacrifices were made via the more or less soulless human characters. And it’s in 3D, which means… OK, no, that just kicked ass.

What’s cool about Monster House is that it overcomes a lot of those challenges, and also provides a pretty fun narrative that ought to keep kids – and adults – engaged. There are also moments that might scare the crap out the younger kids, which is cool, because that’s a hard thing to achieve. And it looks gorgeous. I only have a few, small complaints about the film, but nothing that detracted seriously from my enjoyment.

DJ (Mitchell Musso) lives across the street from Mr. Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi), the crotchety old man of his town. He’s worse, though, because his house is old, creepy, and alive. Yeah, alive. It eats people, animals, tricycles, or any random objects that might happen to land on the lawn. When his best friend Chowder (Sam Lerner) loses a ball to the house – and later witness the house REALLY come to life – they team up with local Girl Scout Jenny (Spencer Locke) to unravel what’s really going on, and put an end to the carnivorous domicile.

It’s silly, it’s cute, it’s completely ridiculous, but I’ll be damned if they don’t work it. It’s very hard to make an animated film scary, especially when the people are very much not realistic, but they pull it off here by making the house a legitimate threat. It’ll eat ANYTHING – cars and people included – and isn’t afraid to let adults see it, like a normal kid’s horror villain. There’s also a sense of anxiety, because the “monster” extends to the lawn and trees as well; there are some great moments when the house lures people in by having the lawn slowly consume the “BEWARE” signs the owner posted.

The voice work is above par, with lots of great people, but no one huge name that overshadows what’s going on. Buscemi, as always, is a standout, along with great placement of Catherine O’Hara and Fred Willard as DJ’s parents. Jon Heder also voices a more or less perfect character for him.

All that’s great, but the focus is on the visuals. If you have the opportunity to see the film is Disney Digital 3D, do it. It’s amazing. It’s much closer to what’s being done with IMAX 3D than it is the old red-blue glasses that gave people headaches. It actually tops IMAX 3D in a lot of ways, too. The lines are crisper and cleaner, and you can tilt your head to either side without noticeably distorting the image. Some of this may be due to the animation vs. live-action factor, but hopefully we won’t have to wait until Star Wars to find out. The one beef I have with it is that motion blur just doesn’t look right. It looks too clean, and too defined. But hey, if my biggest problem is that something looks too much better than reality, than kudos to Disney.

They keep the story flowing pretty well until about half an hour from the end, when I started to lose interest. Fortunately, they were able to grab it again with a pretty awesome fight between the house and the kids. Spread throughout the script is enough material to keep both kids and adults interested and entertained, whether it’s from the antics of the kids, or the more mature antics of DJ’s babysitter (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and her punk-rock boyfriend (Jason Lee).

Overall, lots of fun, and a much better testament to the abilities of motion-captured 3D than “Polar Express.” Certainly, the films were aiming for different things, but “Monster House” trumps Tom Hanks’s effort on both the technological and entertainment fronts. I would heed the PG rating for some parents, but so long as your kid can handle the frights, this is a really fun ride.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14660&reviewer=412
originally posted: 07/27/06 10:57:31
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2006 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/13/10 karamashi One of the best CGI films on the decade. 5 stars
10/25/09 Barbara25 Catch them before they fall: Identification and assessment to prevent reading failure in yo 2 stars
10/25/09 His_wife72 Upon clicking the web address, the recipient is connected to a website containing active co 3 stars
10/24/09 Mr.Carrot80 Someone makes a widget, someone buys that widget at a lower price than they in turn sell i 4 stars
10/24/09 Arnold95   There is accumulating evidence that smaller depositories treat their customers in a less 5 stars
10/24/09 Bob49 Principals paint a vibrant picture of community engagement: local community-based organizat 2 stars
10/24/09 Loy39 If they cannot withstand the scrutiny by having the light of day shine on their dubious act 2 stars
10/24/09 JXL18 What's Going On has been reissued on casette tape and compact disc as well. , 3 stars
10/23/09 Kelvin53 As today's compromised sites are injected with malicious scripts, it will be a challenge to 5 stars
10/23/09 BadGirl81 So how do you do this when your writing job keeps you tied to your desk? , 5 stars
7/28/09 Dr.Lao Could have been great if they didn't strain so hard to be funny 3 stars
8/15/08 Shaun Wallner Great Kids Film! 5 stars
5/21/08 PAUL SHORTT NEWFANGLED TECHNOLOGY PROVIDING OLD-FASHIONED FRIGHTS 2 stars
2/09/08 Samantha P i thought this movie was too scary to be a kids movie, i'm 19 and i jumped a few times! 4 stars
10/14/07 Private Terrific production design. CGI horror for teens up though borderline offensive sidekick. 5 stars
6/28/07 Carol Baker good animation but I've seen better 3 stars
6/10/07 Danielle Ophelia Not a total loss...vaguely disappointing, but not devastating. 3 stars
5/28/07 fools♫gold Whenonesees trustedshelter turningonthe public. Alongversion ofa smart episode of "Courage" 5 stars
5/24/07 Tracey Chambers not a kids movie, and too boring for adults. 1 stars
3/21/07 David Pollastrini great animation 4 stars
1/29/07 Jim Funny, dark, but doesn't anyone else live on this street? See also Thief of Always ... 4 stars
1/11/07 Tracey Chambers not fun at all. boring and well, just plain stupid. 1 stars
11/10/06 Charles Tatum Creepy, fun stuff 4 stars
11/09/06 Seanboy Pure fun. Great use of Jason Lee, Heder. 4 stars
10/31/06 May Q. Horney FATAL HAL meets SHALLOW ATTRACTION. 1 stars
10/15/06 William Goss Effortless entertainment, more so for big kids than young ones. 4 stars
10/10/06 Zack Morris Great movie, Brings back memories of the Goonies, Monter Squad, Lost boys 5 stars
9/22/06 Lisa Craven Great kids movie, my 6 year old loved it and was not at all scared. 4 stars
9/19/06 Joyster kind of boring 3 stars
8/24/06 Jordan Green it was crazy and wicked,it ruled. 5 stars
8/24/06 Chad Thomas Good movie! The kids are nearly as dead looking as in Polar Express! 4 stars
8/18/06 Tiffany not for little kids 4 stars
8/16/06 Littlepurch Great. Well-cast actors, a lot of humour, and it was nice that it tried to be scary. 4 stars
8/16/06 EMMA RUTHERFORD NOT AT ALL FOR CHILDREN AGED 6 OR UNDER!! WOULD NOT RECOMMEND IF YOUR CHILD IS JUMPY!!!!!!! 1 stars
8/06/06 Erik Van Sant Forget 'Cars'. This is the animated pic of the year. Reminded me of childhood movie-going. 5 stars
8/02/06 chris dawson Typical Spielberg/Zemekis fluff--quickly forgotten. 3 stars
8/02/06 Mase Easily the best flick of the summer, for smart kids and adults. Will pass the test of time. 5 stars
8/01/06 Dena A great idea that fell flat. I was bored within the first 2 minutes. 2 stars
7/29/06 Troy M. Grzych Pure fun and excitement. Outstanding use of Film! 5 stars
7/29/06 Ole Man Bourbon Cute and fun, seems too scary for kids, drags a little, black character is a stereotype. 4 stars
7/29/06 KingNeutron Decent FX, just-average plot; some scary moments. 3 stars
7/26/06 Quigley I thought it was really cool. Chowder was a riot. Thank you, Spielberg and Zemeckis 5 stars
7/22/06 spoiledmeat this decades goonies perhaps? 5 stars
7/22/06 David Hollingsworth This is the best family film of 2006. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  21-Jul-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 24-Oct-2006

UK
  11-Aug-2006

Australia
  14-Sep-2006




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