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Sony Pictures

Official Site

Director: Julian Jarrold

Producers: Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey

Written by: Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab, Pamela Pettler

Cast: The voices of Mitchell Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee, Kevin James, Catherine O’Hara, Kathleen Turner, Fred Willard, Jon Heder, Nick Cannon, Steve Buscemi


While CG-animated features have become the norm here in the US, ones of exceptional quality being released are not. The new Sony feature comes from Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment companies.

DJ (Musso) is a young kid spying on the old miser, Knebberkracker (Buscemi) who lives across the street, and is always scaring people away from his creepy, dilapidated old house. He steals the toys and tricycles that wander on the grass and doesn’t give them back. But after an accident leading to Knebbercracker’s apparent death, the house starts upholding the keep-away policy with extreme prejudice, eating anything that comes within its vicinity like Godzilla in Tokyo. DJ gets help from his rotund buddy Chowder (Lerner) and a candy delivery girl (Locke) to find the heart of the house and extinguish it.

Despite good animation and some decent voice acting, Monster House still feels like a very average, phoned-in effort. The story does little to inspire or draw you in. The main characters themselves are pretty vanilla, besides being a little nerdy.

The bigger names, so to speak, play supporting roles, which again don’t inspire, rather adhering to predictable types. The female Gyllenhaal sibling portrays the bratty teenaged sitter for DJ, and Jason Lee is her deadbeat boyfriend. Napoleon Dynamite is an obsessed video gamer and pizza delivery boy who the main kids go to for exposition. Kevin James and Nick Cannon are dim-witted police officers, predictably skeptical of the children.

The interesting material comes in over halfway through, when you find out the origins of the house and why it is what it is. All of which was surprisingly gruesome for an animated kids movie.

In the end, Monster House is decent, inoffensive, but mostly average fare. As far as animated features go, I’m still waiting for Seiji Mizushima’s Conqueror Of Shambala, Studio Ghibli’s own personal version of Earthsea, and Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society.

—Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

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Wait for video rental.

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