Monster House


It’s Alive!

Main Voice Cast: Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Steve Buscemi

Director: Gil Kenan

Plot Summary: Three kids realize that a spooky house is alive! Of course the various adults in the neighborhood do not believe them, and the kids try to work out exactly what to do to rid the world of this malignant spirit.

A delightful family film brought to crisp life via the new generation of animation, Monster House brings to mind the “kids saving the world” movies of the 1980s. While the dialogue is laced with modern vernacular, the spirit of this innocent time (except for the obvious evil villain, usually supernatural) is kept firmly in place. Done with animation changes this not a whit, even enhancing the experience as they can do things here that are impossible with live-action.

The plot centers on D.J. (Musso), skinny and slightly dorky, and his friend Chowder (Lerner). Chowder wishes to continue their trick-or-treating this Halloween, but D.J. is tired of the whole thing. During a b-ball game Chowder’s new ball falls into the yard of the house next door. This is bad, because the old man Nebbercracker (Buscemi) is fanatical about keeping everyone off his yard. Sure enough, when D.J. tries to rescue the ball the old man comes running out and, during the argument, falls down.

D.J. thinks he killed the guy. And, apparently, so does the house. because it comes to evil life shortly after the old man is taken away. D.J. and Chowder try to convince the baby-sitter and others of this fact but, of course, they are not believed. They are joined by the lovely and intelligent Jenny (Locke), whose candy supply is gobbled up by the evil house. Or maybe it just wanted some sweets.

The rest of the movie details the various ways the kids try to figure out what to do to get rid of the evil spirit. Snapping with witty dialogue, the beautiful animation process is a delight to experience. Stylized and unique, everything is carefully rendered to the smallest detail.

The 3-D process was dreamed up by desperate filmmakers when television was king and the movies were slipping into dangerous obscurity. This was just one of many tricks (“smell-vision” is best not talked about. ever) that I thought was consigned to the dust heap of history. Not so. I cannot speak for it here, as I saw it in a regular theatre, but I’m sure it is used cleverly enough. And. the movie was great without this experience. Excellent story, great voice acting, and wonderful animation make this a winner.

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