Monster House (2006)
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I can see it being quite frightening at times for the little ones, but of the kids in the theater its not like I heard any of them screaming mommy. I don't know how well the movie will do with kids, but from an adult's perspective, its definitely worth a viewing.
The best part of the movie definitely has to be the characters. Each were extremely well thought out and put together. They did a fantastic job of matching right voices with the right characters. Characters facial expressions were amazing. You'll find yourself laughing at things they say and do quite a lot.
The animation looks great. They certainly aren't ground breaking. But they fit the movie well. However, I will say that some scenes looked quite amazing.
If you are looking for a fun, clean movie with plenty of laughs and chuckles, this is definitely one you don't want to miss!
It is true that Monster House does contain a predominantly dark theme, with a considerable amount of eerie scenes to support it. I don't believe, however, that this should keep it from being shared with children, especially those preadolescences that will soon enough be able to relate to the emotions and actions of its protagonists. As long as younger children have the guidance of a parent or other compassionate adult, this film has the potential be viewed and adored by all ages.
Movie was scary, funny, dramatic and entertaining all at once. However, some parts of the movie may be a little too scary for kids 8 and under. For grown ups that still try to catch every episode of SpongeBob, this is it!
The Real D 3-D version added to the movie going experience. I didn't experience fatigue or dizziness for the entirety of the movie -- which was more common in previous 3-D movie technology. When I saw the beginning of the end credits, the experience just leaves you begging for more -- but for now, I know that desire can be satisfied by watching this movie again in the near future.
In Monster House, it uses a familiar urban legend, and plays up the nastiness associated with such a location. DJ (Mitchel Musso) stays opposite a creepy looking house, and bears witness, through his telescope, of the things that go bump in the night, and the horrible things that it does. Natually, because he's a kid, nobody believes him, save for good friend cum resident fat-kid loser Chowder (Sam Lerner).
The story's kept tight by having set a day before Halloween, and despite the children being stereotyped, Chowder actually stole the show from DJ with his at time innocent, at time crafty and sly antics, and there's a nice tango for attention between the two boys and their crush of the moment - Jenny (Spenser Locke). So while the three of them get set to unravel the mystery of the Monster House, it doesn't disappoint, with the bickering, laughs and budding romance, chemistry like that between Potter, Ron and Hermione. Hmm.. now that I mentioned, it looked more like a Harry Potter clone.
The graphics require some getting used to, given that it's deliberately not done in a cutesy manner, thereby coming across at times as quite stiff. Come to think of it, there isn't an artificially created "cute" character in the movie, as it adapts "real life" as best as it could, in an animated form. And for a horror movie, it put its real life counterparts to shame, especially in its anticipatory build up in mood and atmosphere.
Anyway, the trailer doesn't give much away except to whet your appetites, so I'll keep it at that rather than to inadvertently reveal any surprises. And if you're undecided between the two animated flicks on offering this week at the local cinemas, then my advice would be to pick Monster House over Barnyard. Here, the story is clearer superior. And that's what matters, really.
This movie started as a script that sat unproduced for years, for want of technology and the right people to make it. The technology that went into it turned out to be the same sort of animation as _The Polar Express_, digital animation based on motion capture. Like _Polar_, it has a stylized look rather than attempting photorealism, but instead of taking the look of paintings in a book, it took the look of extremely detailed dolls and doll accessories. But with motion capture driving the movements of the characters, they end up with a lot of personality, which overrides their stylized look. The animation is least effective in the climax scene at the end, where it exaggerates the action just a bit too far for my tastes, but even there it's pretty good. Most of the time the animation is excellent, with just the right degree of exaggeration to fit the stylized look. The sets are very good, particularly a construction site near the house. I'd rate the animation very good.
More important than the technology is the story. What really makes the images on the screen interesting is the way they serve the story. Comparing with _The Polar Express_ again highlights the point -- this movie had a solid story, compared with _Polar_, which expanded a very thin children's book into a feature-length story. This movie's story isn't in a class with the best of Pixar, but the film-makers are clearly aware of the fact that the strength of the story is very important. I'd rate the story very good.
The voice and motion capture performances, shot in only 34 days, are almost all excellent. My favorite was Maggie Gyllenhaal, who was wonderful in her supporting part as babysitter "Z". The least satisfying, I thought, was Jon Heder (as video-game master "Skull"), and he was good, just not great. Even Kathleen Turner, as the house, performed in the motion capture space, moving around in a neighborhood constructed of foam. I really hope that the director wasn't joking when he said he might include her motion capture video as a DVD extra. Nick Cannon, as a rookie police officer, was probably the funniest character, relative to his screen time.
Kathleen Turner's presence in the cast is a bit of a nod to executive producer Robert Zemeckis, who cast her as Jessica Rabbit in _Who Framed Roger Rabbit_. She was thrilled by the part, which gave her a grotesque role to mirror her glamorous role as Jessica Rabbit. Other Zemeckis references are more obvious. Most obvious one is in the opening, featuring a leaf. Another deals with a basketball -- originally an accident during production. Others may exist, but it's not packed with pop culture references like the _Shrek_ movies.
Directing an animated film is different in a lot of ways from directing live action, which makes it more complicated to rate. Directing this movie involved directing both the motion capture performances and the camera positioning. The director took the script, and made complete storyboards from it. From those, he made an animatic, which guided the way he directed the motion capture shoot. Because of the way character interactions affected the results, he said that he ended up throwing out all the storyboarding, but I'd guess he meant that figuratively. The character interaction looked really good, better than almost any animated movie I've seen. I'd rate the directing excellent, in a class with Pixar.
Overall, I'd rate the movie very good, mostly on the strength of the story. Kids are usually easy to please, and they'll probably find the movie excellent. Adults are harder to please. Where _Shrek_ emphasizes pop culture references for adult appeal, this movie targets adults' memories of childhood, effectively drawing adults into enjoying it like the kids in the audience.
Credits: There are a few additional scenes after the credits begin. Don't run out right away. Stick around at least until the fine-print credits roll.
Personal appearances: The director, Gil Kenan, and a couple of the producers (I don't know which ones, but not Spielberg or Zemeckis) were there. The director took questions from the audience, and answered very enthusiastically -- he seemed like he was thrilled to see his film in front of a real audience, and not burned out from hearing the same questions over and over. He was really nice to the kids in the audience, and behaved like he was new to the experience of being the center of attention. He signed lots of autographs (including one for me), and seemed genuinely pleased that people cared enough to ask. That's a reaction that one might expect for the director of something obscure, but uncommonly nice for the director of a big-budget summer movie.
The US rating is "PG", for some scary scenes and (supposedly) "crude humor and brief language". The crude humor is minimal, compared to typical movies aimed at kids. I can't think of any inappropriate language.
I have NEVER seen anything like this before. The story itself is entertaining and very reminiscent of the type of movie that Steven Spielberg would have made in the early 80's, but the 3D element makes it an EVENT! If you have a choice to see this in a regular theater or in 3D, do not hesitate to see it 3D! From the moment the title comes on screen, I knew I was going to see a level of realism in the 3D process that I had never experienced before. In fact, seeing "Monster House" in a regular theater might be akin to seeing all of "The Wizard of Oz" in black and white. It would severely diminish the potential impact of the film. "Monster House" was obviously envisioned as a 3D experience and the technical process envelopes you in the story and the world in which it takes place in a way that is so immediate and palpable.
Lest you think that only the technique is worthy of praise, let me mention that the script, the performances, the direction, the score are all of the fun, adventurous spirit of all the best movies I remember from my youth. It has the feel of "E.T.", "The Goonies", even a little bit of "Poltergeist", just a lot more kid-friendly. The movie isn't extraordinary, but it's a heck of a lot of fun. So a giddy 8 stars for the movie, but an enthused 10 stars for the experience. PLEASE, do yourself the favor of seeing this on a 3D screen!
The "edginess" isn't just the violence (a Halloween-type scary house and the comes alive and attacks people), it's most of the characters. They are typical Hollywood-young people meaning they have "attitudes." They aren't exactly sweet, lovable people, except for the one young boy "D.J." (voiced by Mitchel Musso). The dialog on the kids - two boys, the babysitter and her boyfriend - make this more of a film for teens and younger adults. The "attitude" means wise-remarks and general obnoxiousness and rebellious attitudes. The worst in that attitude category is D.J.'s friend "Chowder," the kind of guy who talks you into doing things that wind up getting YOU in trouble.
The best part of the film, besides the animation, is the unpredictability of the story. You kept wondering what was going to happen next. That made the 91 minutes go by pretty fast. It's a simple story but very entertaining despite the not-so-great-role models and, as most pictures do, has a good message and a few heartwarming scenes at the end.
On a more positive note the characters were interesting, especially Nebbercracker. I could tell that he clearly had some sort of motive, when you saw the look on his face you knew everything he was feeling. I certainly began to develop hunches. Yet he still managed to be truly creepy. As a friend once said to me: if a boy is spying on the old man across the street it's called paranoia, if the old man is spying on a boy across the street it's called something else. As for the 3 main characters I liked DJ the most. He seemed much smarter than his friend and had a fair amount of common sense which was good because I absolutely hated Chowder. He got on my nerves big time for not being a very good friend and for being incredibly stupid at times. He'd seen all the signs that the house was dangerous but as soon as the owner's gone he happily jumps all over it's lawn, if it's a monster house surely it doesn't matter who's there or not. As for Jenny I thought she was okay, she certainly brought a lot of sense and planning into their attack but didn't seem to have much else to her other than being pretty. I thought Constance was a very misunderstood character portrayed brilliantly by the animation and script, I felt sorry for her even when she was trying to get rid of the heroes. Probably due to my dislike of Chowder...but never mind.
When D.J.'s parents travel , it's his chance along with his friends Jenny and Chowder, to know the truth about the house. What they don't know, is that a mysterious secret is hidden in it, that is also the reason for Nebbercracker's bad mood.
''Monster House'' is a cute animation, but I found it too weak to be nominated to an Academy Award. The movie doesn't scare ( as the title of the movie would imply something frighting ), has flaws (like no one watching the house moving, except the children) and the story is very silly, even for kids in their 9's and 10 years old. I miss great animations like Ice Age,Finding Nemo, Monsters S.A. and Shrek (thanks God the third movie of the series will be released this year!); this movie cannot be compared to them, unfortunately, and I would only recommend it to younger kids.
The story and characters were fabulous as well. I took my five-year-old to see it and he wasn't unpleasantly scared... he just thought it was cool.
I can't wait for the DVD to come out -- hopefully at Halloween. What a great film!
1. Some genuinely scary moments. There are a couple really clever spooky scenes in this film, one involving a moving shadow and another involving a demented old man.
2. Some nice nods to Hitchcock's "Psycho" and "Rear Window", as the three children spy on a sinister house through a telescope.
3. Some pretty clever camera work. Director Gil Kenan's orchestrates several neat flourishes worthy of Welles. Watching this film in 3D, I was also impressed with the use of shadows. It's a pretty creepy looking film.
4. Captures the whole "suburban fantasy" feel of Zemeckis' and Spielberg's early work (ie ET, Poltergeist, Back to the Future etc).
5. One of the first animated films to use motion capture technology. "The Polar Express" did this a year earlier, but married the captured performances to "realistic" looking characters. Here the technology is used to apply realistic motion to more overtly cartoonish models.
7. Two or three funny nods to "Forrest Gump".
1. Forgettable characters. Our 3 heroes are pretty bland.
2. Like most CGI flicks, the last half hour degenerates into loud and annoying action spectacle. I had this same problem with "Surf's Up". What starts off as an unconventional and charming flick, eventually ends up in mindless Hollywood territory.
3. Inside the house is pretty unimaginative. All the horror and mystery is lost once the kids go indoors.
7.5/10 - Outside of PIXAR, this is one of the most imaginative and entertaining animated films of recent years.
Worth one viewing.
This movie is too scary for young kids, and i'm afraid that teens today may be living some of this movie scenario - so why rub it in their faces? As for an adult audience - you won't find it scary or amusing - just boring, contrived and predictable. And the characters are just wrong - clueless parents, ignorant police, stupid and annoying friends, nasty and manipulative babysitters, and beer drinking/womanizing boyfriends. What great material for kids - does this really sound like a children's movie to anyone? Even the computer animation and good voice work aren't enough to redeem this terrible flick. Save your money, save your time, and save your children's minds - go rent Ice Age, Monsters Inc., the Incredibles, Shrek, A Bug's Life - ANY of them are way better than this horrid film. Spielberg and Zemeckis - shame on both of you for making such a disaster and then billing it as a children's/family movie!!
The cinematics (camera movements and virtual lenses), which are almost better than Pixar's, the virtual lightning (marvelous). Great cinematic experience.
The ending song, "Halloween". Stunning to hear how this 30 years old song by Siouxsie and the Banshees still sounds fresh and edgy in 2007. What a great band, ahead of its time.
Shallow and formulaic character development, hollow one-dimensional characters, lack of face expression (they relied too much on the actors).
Also looks kinda outdated. When you have such a "realistic" CGI environment for the characters to live in, having static hair and soft movements for human characters is a major letdown, it doesn't fit in.
Extremely poor screenplay and lazy storytelling, mainly the flashback part about the circus woman, which could have been a terrific and very moving sub-story, but is sadly just sloppily executed.
Unfunny gags. Far too clean. Lacks grit. Lacks spirit, lacks real juice. Questionable editing decisions.
Overall, pretty tame, and slightly boring compared to the "big" projects in modern animation (Over the Hedge, Madagascar, Nemo...), with the exception of the cinematics, which are among the very best I've seen.
Something is not right at Mr. Nebbercracker's (Steve Buscemi) house. Anytime an object lands on his property or anywhere near the house, it automatically becomes his, and he is never nice to anyone in the neighbourhood. D.J. (Mitchel Musso) is intrigued by the whole thing, and continually spies and watches Nebbercracker's movements. Shortly after his parents leave for a two day trip, his friend Chowder (Sam Lerner) arrives with a new basketball. A missed shot lands the ball on Nebbercracker's lawn. D.J. attempts to retrieve it, and ends up in an argument with the old man, resulting in his apparent "death". After the ambulance takes him away though, strange things begin happening with his house, and begins to come alive.
Yes, the plot is extremely silly, but in a nostalgic 1980's sort of way. It may be animated, but it feels much in the same realm as live action fare like The Goonies, Gremlins and all the other mildly scary and terrifically silly films of that time period. It just has that distinct feel and mold to it, that just seems out of place in 2006, but would be right at home in 1986. It is not that the film is not good, but it just feels a bit too over-the-top, even for a kid's film. When the house really starts getting to the point of being beyond haunted, it just loses its focus and becomes a bad monster movie. Giving the whole thing an emotional backgrounder that little to no kids would be able to understand really does not help the film all that much either. It just contributes to its ridiculousness.
The story is imaginative and most definitely entertains, but only to a certain point. When things start getting explained, the film's narrative stops at a halt, and just barely picks up afterwards. It drags itself out to its eventual finale, and it just does not need all of this extra exposition. Why do we need gross pee jokes? Or a tokin' bumbling black rookie cop? Do the filmmakers honestly believe that little children are going to be taking these in as the funny moments they are meant to be? Or are they going to be too afraid to open their eyes with all of the horrific mayhem going on on-screen? It is not like the film holds back on the cheap child-like scares, it only keeps up. And especially being a kids movie, it just felt awkward to do so. The in-jokes were amusing however, but again, will go sailing past a young child more so than similar things in other animated films.
Another thing that threw me off was the animation itself. Now I may be more accustomed to the work of Pixar and Dreamworks, but some of the work done here just feels very aged and withered. No character has any real distinguishing features between each other (beyond their obvious personality differences), and virtually none of them have any real detail in their looks. Now, this may be attributed to the motion-capture style animation being done to bring this film to life, but then why were Gollum and King Kong so frigging detailed? It screams of lazy film-making, and again, makes it feel more at home in 1986. Even after looking at the fascinatingly short making-of featurettes on the DVD, I still cannot fathom why so much work went into creating the animation to be just right, but not enough was put in to make it intricately detailed like other CGI-animated films.
The voice talent all deliver their lines and actions very well. Buscemi is a hoot as the crazy old man Nebbercracker. He gives the right amount of intensity and emotion needed at all times, even when the focus of the film really begins to slip. Mercer, Lerner and Spencer Locke (the female of the group, Jenny) are not too bad at all as the kids trying to get to the bottom of the disturbances. Their naivety and adventuresome nature make for some greatly imaginative moments in the film (albeit, the film could have cut most of their wasteful scenes from their material). Supporting turns from Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee, Kevin James and Jon Heder are all amusing in their own right, and were definitely interesting choices for these actors.
All around, Monster House is a disappointing film culled from a very interesting idea. Its sheer ridiculousness just cannot be offset by the fact that its a children's film. That never gave anyone else a free pass to make subpar work, and unfortunately that is exactly what this film is. It is watchable though, but I doubt I will ever see why the Academy gave this film the nomination and passed on the astonishing satire of the far superior Over the Hedge.
No cars drive by except the cop car, no one is seen walking outside their houses until after the film's climax, and this Suburbia has the most soundproof houses ever as no one seems to notice a roaring house a few feet away causing quite a raucous. The pizza shop is also completely empty. No crowds gather when the house chases the trio, not even a "Look, Mommy! The house next door is walking!" Was everyone off on holiday? Not to mention DJ's oblivious parents that don't believe Nebbercracker harassed a young girl and swiped her trike when they were right across the street.
Even for a children's film the dialogue is just atrocious. There are so many cringe-inducing one liners. The writing all together was awful. The plot unfolds at a briskly uncomfortable pace. We don't know anything about the characters (or care) and one phone call from the apparently uninhabited haunted house points to one conclusion: it's a ghost and the kids are hellbent on solving the mystery.
After hearing Jason Lee in The Incredibles and the guy who voiced the turtle in Over the Hedge, I'm beginning to believe that it is possible to give a horrible voice-over. Every actor here has an grating voice and play even more irritating characters (Jon Heder, in particular... if any actor was far overdue to portray a mute, he's it). Far too many lines are delivered aggressively, obnoxiously or in an unsuitable tone of voice.
This should have been a modern-day, CGI Stand By Me, a coming of age tale woven into a more convoluted plot while still possessing relevance. There's no moral here, no lesson to be learned. There's a vague sense of the "Don't grow up too fast" tale but it's jettisoned too quickly to matter once the kids decide to go trick-or-treating in the end.
Ultimately, a grating movie experience that had me checking my watch and rolling my eyes constantly.
The movie centers around DJ and Chowder, two pre-teen friends who suspect the house across the street is evil. After losing their ball on the yard, Mr. Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi), the owner of the house, gets a heart attack while trying to scare the kids off. His sudden 'death' angers the house, making it turn into a creature with the windows as the eyes, and the door as the mouth.
The idea that a house has a face and walks around may sound stupid, but with the stellar animation it completely works. Kenan not only offers much laughter, but focuses on scaring us with what we all feared as kids (at least the ones who lived in Suburban homes), that one spooky house we were always afraid to go near. The house swallows people, blows steam from the chimney and plays dead when authority comes to check it out.
There's always some aspect of the film, at least in an animated feature that doesn't work. Take for example "Shrek" or "Shrek II". What bothered me is that they focused on making little children laugh (the donkey is NOT funny for someone who doesn't laugh at fart jokes). Or "The Incredibles", where the aspect of children having superpowers has been done to death. Aside from "Finding Nemo", "Monster House" is the one movie that has everything going for it. Though at times the humor is targeted at a much younger audience, there are instances where you know this is not a G-rated movie ('OK, let's cut the crap, I know that the owners left you some money... Now buy some Halloween candy').
DJ and Chowder are almost too realistic. Their mannerisms, their facial expressions, their behavior far reaches beyond any child star. The character of Zee (voiced by Maggie Gyllenhaal) is awe-inspiring, with her exaggerated body language that probably made Maggie herself blush. Nebbercracker is probably my favorite character. Voiced by the hilarious Buscemi, the seemingly rotten old man is both hilarious and scary. He's the heart of the story (pun intended) and the drive for the 'horror' aspect of the film.
We've all been there. We all loved to watch scary movies as kid. But not too scary, I'm talking about movies like "Goonies" and "Gremlins" and "The Addams Family". We all loved to watch scared kids taking on adults or monsters, with classics such as "Home Alone", and "Die Unendliche Geschichte (The Neverending Story)". This movie combines both of those in order to satisfy a younger audience and create a sense of nostalgia in the older demographic.
With one of the best animated scenes I've ever seen on the screen (at the end, with the dynamite being thrown), "Monster House" goes up there with "The Nightmare Before Christmas", "Edward Scissorhands", and "Beetle Juice" as a Burtonesque type of film that defines childhood desire for fear. Definitely a movie that can be seen more than just once, and the best 3D Animated Feature since "Finding Nemo", "Monster House" is a sure contender at the Academy Awards in 2007, and perhaps the most fun movie of the summer so far.
The story is pretty simple and not entirely original. But the zest for which the characters jump into your lap (figuratively and literally) makes this a fun ride through a house of horrors.
The overall animation is pretty decent, but the facial expressions are absolutely fantastic. They are so lifelike. The lack of photo realism in other features is quickly ignored as you feel at times like you are watching a real life childhood drama unfold right in front of you.
Who hasn't had a spooky house in their neighborhood that was legend? This film taps into that legend and brings to life through gleeful fun the horror that unfolds.
This continues a great bunch of surprises I have experienced this summer at the local multiplex.
"House Monster" begins like "Fright Night", i.e., a teenager sees a weird situation with his neighbor and nobody gives credit to his words. The story is flawed, since nobody sees the attacks and movements of the house in the whole neighborhood, only the three teens. But the movie is very funny, with great animation and hilarious voices, and an excellent and worthwhile family entertainment. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "A Casa Monstro" ("The Monster House")
You'll get nothing out of this movie, be amused for a few minutes at most here and there, and you'll come out wishing you spent your time better.