Monster House Review

When the leaves on the trees turn gold and red and cool winds sail them down to cover the streets, something happens to the air, the neighborhood, the sidewalks. Halloween has come and with it' a feeling that anything can happen, especially something eerie.

In Monster House, produced by Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg, the magic of mystery, adventure and coming of age builds a fantastic nostalgia to the movies like The Goonies. We've seen these characters in Monster House before, but it has been a long, long while.  The film is a definite ode to the 1980's with Atari video games, station wagons and supernatural adolescent adventure but the dialogue and relationships are fresh and the story contemporary.

The film sweeps you up in its vibrant characters and the eerie mystery of a dark looming house harboring a creepy secret. The three main characters are 'tween' kids from the neighborhood who find themselves forced on a mission to find out what's going on in the house across the street and if what they suspect is real. Is the house alive?

The dialogue between DJ (Mitchel Musso) and Chowder (Sam Lerner) is refreshing and thoughtful, not dumbed down, and when Jenny (Spencer Locke), an over achieving girl scout, comes into the picture, the harmless but passionate antics begin to win her heart. The relationships between the characters were very real and you could relate to every single one.

 

Steve Buscemi plays the crotchety old Mr. Nebbercracker who fiendishly guards his decaying old residence. Maggie Gyllenhaal is the perfect teen babysitter; manipulative, apathetic, and dates a slacker rock dude named Bones voiced by Jason Lee. Jon Heder of Napoleon Dynamite fame is Skull, a god among boys, a 20-something loafer pizza chef and urban legend has it that he once played a video game for four days with one quarter, a gallon of milk and an adult diaper. Constance, the very plump and deceased wife of Mr. Nebbercracker is Kathleen Turner, whose voice has the perfect tight, breathless sound.

The animation was a marvel, smooth and textured without too much of the hollowness you usually feel. The hair was sculpted like ceramic and it brought back memories of my mothers Dutch porcelain figurines from the 1950's. The expressions and movement had a real depth and after the first ten minutes, you forget about the animation and become involved with the best part, the story.

Monster House is definitely an eerie fun film with enough mature sensibility that adults can enjoy it as well and yes, the kiddies in the theatre 'eeked!' a few times.

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