Workaholic realtor Jim Evers, his wife/business partner Sara and their two children are summoned to a mansion. When they discover that the place is haunted, Jim discovers an important lesson about the family he's neglected as they attempt to escape.
Apartment building superintendent Cleveland Heep rescues what he thinks is a young woman from the pool he maintains. When he discovers that she is actually a character from a bedtime story who is trying to make the journey back to her home, he works with his tenants to protect his new friend from the creatures that are determined to keep her in our world.
M. Night Shyamalan
Bryce Dallas Howard,
Married realtors Jim and Sara with their children go to Gracey Manor and Mr. Gracey is enamored with Sara and they discover that Sara looks like Mr. Gracey's old girlfriend, Elizabeth, who died young and they think it was a suicide but discover that *spoiler* she was murdered . By Ramsey Written by
Eddie Murphy, PLEASE start making adult comedies again!
The most disappointing thing about "The Haunted Mansion" is that its star, Eddie Murphy, has once again lowered himself to silly kids' fare. I'm sure some younger children may get a kick out of certain segments of "The Haunted Mansion," but then again, its intended age group -- the 4-and-over crowd -- will be undoubtedly scared by its eerie presence and quite frightening visuals, such as when a father and his daughter are locked in a tomb and find re-animated -- and quite realistic -- skeletons chasing them. The scary moment of this all aside, the fact that these stiff creatures pursue the young girl will most likely strike a chord with children. If you take your kids to see this, you're just asking for nightmares.
Murphy is Jim Evers, a workaholic Realtor accused by his wife and co-Realtor, Sarah (Marsha Thomason), that he neglects his personal life far too often in favor of the cash he's making at work. So Jim promises Sarah and his two kids (Marc John Jefferies and Aree Davis) a relaxing getaway to a nearby lake. But first he's going to just make a quick stop at his newest assignment, the Gracey Manor, an old, crumbling mansion located in the heart of swamp area. The butler of the establishment, Ramsley (Terence Stamp), lets them in and eventually informs them that they will be unable to leave the house due to flooding on the road. Something strange is afoot, and the audience guesses what's going on about an hour before the movie's characters do, which is a tedious thought.
As we first suspect from the title, the ride, and the overall marketing of the movie, ghosts inhabit the mansion, and soon we learn that Master Gracey (Nathaniel Parker) plans on taking Sarah as his bride. Why? Just take a guess. She bears a startling resemblance to his old love, Elizabeth (also played by Thomason in flashbacks and such).
Now, I'm not going to try and sound racist here, but let's be blunt: Back when Master Gracey was alive, he would never have been near an African-American woman. And even if he were, it would surely be a matter brought up during the film's running time. Yet Disney seems afraid to touch the subject, as if it may offend its potential audience by even indicating racial technicalities. But all it does it make the whole situation come off as rather comical.
Meanwhile, Wallace Shawn ("The Princess Bride") provides supposed comic relief as a ghost. But to assume he can steal the movie himself is, of course, "inconceivable!"
So here we have an odd mix of horror and slapstick, pratfalls and frights. The movie is based on the Walt Disney World theme park ride, which is probably about three to five minutes long, and there's a reason for that. Its movie adaptation feels like a giant theme park ride, but the material can't support itself for a bare minimum ninety minutes, so we get a lot of nonsense about a ghost trying to marry a deceased love, and so on and so forth, minus the humor and flair and rousing feeling of Disney's surprise hit of 2003, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," which has started a trend we may (unfortunately) be seeing more of in the future.
And as for Murphy -- who was once one of Hollywood's bad boys -- where is he in this mess? Murphy seems way too eager to please in this movie, boasting his famous smile every second he can -- probably to evoke nostalgia of his older efforts. Or maybe he's just trying to remain totally optimistic. But you know a movie is in trouble when even Eddie Murphy can't manage to insert witty one-liners. Instead, he relies on the occasional bodily function joke, which is usually a good indication that an actor has hit rock bottom. I don't think it's that Eddie Murphy has lost his humor. I think it's that his humor has lost him.
"The Haunted Mansion" knows it's in a bad position from the start, and it doesn't even make an effort to give Murphy any funny lines whatsoever. It's directed by Rob Minkoff ("The Lion King," "Stuart Little"), and is proof that sometimes directors should be restricted to certain mediums of entertainment. "The Haunted Mansion" isn't a terrible movie, but it isn't anything special, and you can find the same quality material by flicking on ABC, Sunday nights at 7:00 p.m.
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