Movie Review: Monster House (2006)

Remember this review in October when it becomes relevant.

Monster House (2006)

Starring: Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee, Kevin James, Nick Cannon, Jon Heder

Directed by: Gil Kenan

When this first came to theatres, I was mildly interested in seeing it, as it was advertised as having a 3-D version. Sadly, the 3-D version was never carried where I live, so I didn’t bother with it. It’s too bad, because watching it now, it’s obvious that certain scenes were set up with the 3-D features in mind.

Not that the standard version suffers without the 3-D element, it just seems like it would be that much more fun if an anthropomorphic house was leaping out at me while I watched. Still, it was a of fun on its own, a Spielbergian type caper of children undergoing an adventure hidden in the quiet corners of suburbia, a la E.T. and The Goonies (Steven Spielberg serves as a co-producer of the movie, along with Robert Zemeckis). It’s the kind of adventure-filled animated movie that used to capture my imagination as a child, one that quickly grasps your attention, then keeps you on the edge of your seat until it’s over.

The movie manages some genuine frights, even for an older audience (as long as you’re judging it as a children’s movie, not as a adult horror movie), and is probably too scary for really young children (it is rated PG). Sticking around for the scenes that run during the credits should alleviate any pressing concerns for children, and possibly avoid some nightmares afterward. It’s a perfect movie for the Halloween season, providing the spooky chills kids like for the season (so, of course, the geniuses behind the release of the movie released Monster House in July).

The movie follows DJ (Mitchel Musso), an adolescent boy who monitors the creepy old man across the street (Steve Buscemi), who yells at anyone who steps foot on his property, confiscating all toys that land on the lawn of his creepy house. When old man Nebbercracker is hospitalised following an altercation with DJ and his goofy friend Chowder (Sam Lerner), DJ learns that the house itself is the true danger to the neighbourhood, so he, Chowder, and Jenny (Spencer Locke), a prep school girl they save from the house, decide to band together to stop the house from attacking neighbourhood children on Halloween night.

Monster House is a strange property in the world of modern American animated features, in that its fairly original. Hell, it should get special recognition for the simple fact that it doesn’t feature smack-talking woodland creatures, unlike 90% of the animated family movies of 2006. The animation is of the performance capture computer animation variety, similar to that featured in Zemeckis’ The Polar Express, only with more cartoonish features for the human characters, which succeeds in making them less creepy. Overall, the animation is pretty strong, helping create the atmosphere and generate scares necessary for the movie to succeed.

In all, Monster House is a fun movie aimed at older children that should capture their imagination and even make them jump out of their seats. It’s a decent movie for adults to watch with their family, or on their own for an evening of fun entertainment. But it’s not a superior movie that transcends the family movie genre, like most of Pixar’s movies and Wallace and Gromit, but I enjoyed watching it for what it was, and think you will too.

3.5/5

Related Reviews:
A Bug’s Life (1998)
Iron Giant (1999)
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2006)

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