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Overall Rating

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

10 reviews, 44 user ratings

Monster House
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by Doug Bentin

"I hate it when this happens."
4 stars

That is, when an animated movie for kids turns out to be terrific for adults as well. It's just unnatural, at least since Uncle Walt died.

I wish I were reviewing “Monster House” after having seen it in 3-D. People who have seem to think that it’s the second coming of sound, color, and widescreen all wrapped up in one package. The Cinemark theater chain has recently announced that it wants to put one 3-D screening room in most of its multiplexes, but I’ve seen nothing about our TinselTown. Let’s hope for the best.

But “Monster House” flat is still a lot of fun, a memory trip for adults who remember that one creepy old house in town about which everyone had a scary story to tell.

But the movie is not just a Ray Bradbury-like exercise in imaginative nostalgia. It’s also for and about real kids—not over sentimentalized and not overly cruded-up—just real kids who have the kinds of problems with parents, babysitters, neighbors and friends that perplex them without driving them to distraction. Kids don’t need help becoming distracted. That’s why they’re called “kids.”

The creepy house is directly across the street from DJ (voiced by Mitchell Musso), a boy on the cusp of being too old to go out for candy on Halloween night, one of the worst periods of any boy’s life. When he and his best pal Chowder (Sam Lerner) discover that old man Nebbercracker’s house is actually alive and eating anyone who approaches it, they get into a fight with Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi) and the cranky oldster collapses. Now that there is no one around to keep it under control, the house gets really hungry.

The boys enlist the reluctant aid of superior private school girl Jenny (Spencer Locke) to destroy the house’s heart and end its menace.

Co-executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, the movie shows more of Zemeckis’ influence in its sly ghost story sensibility. Director Gil Kenan displays more simpatico with some of Joe Dante’s work than he does with his producers’. Not in story but in attitude the movie reminds me a lot of Dante's “Matinee” and “Gremlins,” and most particularly of “Eerie, Indiana,” with its understanding that kids may go to adults for help but don’t really expect to get any because grown-ups just don’t see life the same way they do. One of the truest things ever said about the child/adult relationship was uttered offhandedly in “Matinee” when John Goodman’s character admitted that grown-ups just make it up as they go along.

Kevin James and Nick Cannon are the numbnuts cops, Maggie Gyllenhaal is the sardonic babysitter, Jason Lee is her musician boyfriend, John Heder is the whacked video game king, and Kathleen Turner is the house. All of them, plus Buscemi and the three kids in the leads cut loose and do nice work in the way that only voice acting allows you to.

Kenan, whose first film this is, does things with motion capture animation others who use the technique will be imitating for years, and the script by Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab, and Pamela Pettler is consistently amusing and only occasionally falls back on animated kids’ movie clichés.

Don’t skip this one because you think it’s just for children. Actually, the Winnie-the-Pooh crowd will probably be frightened by it.

“Monster House” is that rarest of movie creatures—a movie that is not only for kids, but also for anyone who ever was one.

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originally posted: 08/14/06 07:47:54
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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
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
8/06/06 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
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  21-Jul-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 24-Oct-2006



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