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1997 | 1994

1 item from 1997

Film review: '4 Million Houseguests'

9 May 1997 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

A triumph in all respects, the newest IMAX 3-D production "Four Million Houseguests" is a joy for the visual wonders it contains and its well-realized agenda -- from the obligatory-but-engaging characters to the philosophical approach to nature and man's place in the cosmos.

Directed by veteran Paul Cox ("Vincent", "Lust and Revenge") -- whose fiction films made in Australia have always boasted evocative imagery -- "Houseguests" starts its premiere run locally at Edwards 21 Megaplex in Irvine, Calif. Unrated, the film has a few scary-looking but inanimate bugs seen in extreme close-up, but there are none of the usual in-your-lap shocks or stomach-upsetting camera moves. Overall its appeal ranges across the board -- from youngsters to oldsters.

Featuring Charlotte Sullivan ("Harriet the Spy") as a bright girl who discovers the beauty of common denizens in the house of her grandfather, "Houseguests" also stars Cox regular Gosia Dobrowolska and C. David Johnson as the parents, while James Garner lends his voice as the playful-but-absent homeowner with a gift for invention and love of collecting mechanical toys and objets d'art.

With a lush, complementary score by Richard Robbins ("The Remains of the Day"), "Houseguests" unfolds gently as a family arrives in a wooded locale to house-sit. Clues are left for the granddaughter to solve, leading to microscopes and eventually the fanciful "illuminator" -- which provides amazing views of grains of salt and moth wings magnified up to as much as 40,000 times. One such image shows a mite on a honeybee. On the six-story-high screen, the minute arachnid looks like a sphinx in a vast desert.

There's a nifty time-lapse sequence showing fruit molding over 17 days and the first use of Schlieren photography in the IMAX format, but the film is a complete experience that makes one appreciate the miracle of life and the intricacy of the physical world without lecturing or resorting to sensationalistic techniques.


Imax Corp.

ABC/Kane Prods.

Director:Paul Cox

Producers:Sally Dundas, Barbara Kerr, Lorne Orleans

Executive producers:Andrew Gellis, Dennis B. Kane, Jonathan Barker

Writers:Paul Cox, Barbara Kerr, John Larkin, Margot Wiburd, Marc Strange

Director of photography:Vic Sarin

Music:Richard Robbins

Cast:Charlotte Sullivan, C. David Johnson, Gosia Dobrowolska


Running time -- 45 minutes

No MPAA rating


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1997 | 1994

1 item from 1997

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