I hear that THE HAUNTED MANSION is based on a Disney theme park attraction. I've never seen the ride, but from what I can gather, it has something to do with sitting in a chair and being bored insensible for an hour and a half.I'd literally rather catch THE CAT IN THE HAT again than revisit this swirling black hole of corporatized mediocrity. CAT was pretty lame, and it was lame in a particularly offensive way, as it cheerfully desecrated a beloved children's book. But arguably, its tastelessness gave it (altogether by accident, of course) a certain surreal quality; it's all screwed up in an especially lurid fashion. MANSION is just paint-by-numbers filmmaking, virtually devoid of humor, imagination, or interest. It's so unoriginal that you have to wonder how they got a copyright on a film composed entirely of public-domain materials.
Eddie Murphy is an overworked real estate agent who unwisely takes his wife (Marsha Thomason) and two kids to the mansion of the title. There's no invention at work here; the mansion itself is full of the kinds of haunted house cliches (spider webs, crystal balls, cadaverous butlers, etc, etc, etc.) that were old before Bela Lugosi was born. Screenwriter David Berenbaum provides a drearily empty plot involving ancient curses and quests for various MacGuffins. He's managed to invent a mystery with no mystery--you don't care what's really going on here. (A sidenote: Berenbaum also wrote ELF, currently in theatres. Go watch that instead.)
As for the acting...poor Eddie delivers one of his automatic pilot performances; he's seemingly gotten to the point where he thinks he can gets laughs just by popping his eyes wide open at appropriate intervals. Thomason does somewhat better, though it's hard to tell as she has so very little to do.A theme-park movie ought to provide mindless visceral thrills, at least. MANSION doesn't deliver on any count. What you're left with is a very pricey commercial for a ride that, one hopes, is a good deal more fun than this. And shorter, too.