Monster House (2006) Poster


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This movie caught me by surprise
ryandouglassw2 August 2006
Monster House was a perfect combination of kid-friendliness, horror, action and adventure. When I first walked into the theater I thought it would be "kiddy" because I went to see it with my younger cousin. You know how most animated movies are somewhat funny and about teamwork and working together or teaches life lessons or morals but I actually came to find that this movie was more scary than comical or ethical. I actually got into it. I actually ended up liking it more than my cousin. Some of the content is for older kids but it's non-stop action and the momentum of the story line never stops. And the characters seem so real. 2 thumbs up. I definitely recommend it.
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Scary fun
laci-56 July 2006
Well, I think if I saw this movie when I was ten years old, I would have been totally scared and could not sleep for weeks. Now it seems time has changed: ten-year-old children are playing horror-video games so probably what was too scary for them in the eighties is just right and fun now. Actually this is just what you could expect from a movie about a monster house: funny, spectacular, sometimes frightening. Quite a well-developed story - even if it is full of clichés, or should I say homage? - with the usual "two boys, one girl" trio as seen in Star Wars or Harry Potter. The animation is strange at first: they seem like rubber dummies, but thanks to the motion capture, their movement and expressions are first rate. While they look like having plastic hair, there is a great development since Polar Express in one field: their eyes are constantly moving - full of life. And the whole movie is just a typical and fun Spielberg-Zemeckis production with elements of Hitchcock. Besides the extraordinarily dark scenes it just feels like those very entertaining Spielberg productions of the eighties.
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Quite the enjoyable movie!
cokerbl16 June 2006
I just saw this movie at the Seattle International Film Festival. I didn't know what to expect, but I must say I found it quite enjoyable. There was a lot of talk before the movie. People were saying that it will be too scary for the little kids, but not adult enough to capture older kids attention.

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!
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A trio of preteens must work together to conquer the frightening house across the street when they discover that it is alive.
badkitty176928 July 2006
Let's be clear - Monster House is not your typical 'feel-good' children's movie. That isn't to say, however, that there are never any points where the viewer is allowed to feel good. In fact, I discovered, despite my initial resistance to a movie that I thought would simply impress me graphically, copious moments of warmth and humor within the unembellished and utterly human actions of the characters. This is the movie's paramount success. Not the plot, the myriad celebrity voices, or even the decisively unique and dazzling computer animation. Where Monster House really shines is within the dialogue and behavior of its perfectly believable personalities. From the girl-musings and growing pains of the pubescent DJ and Chowder to the cantankerous rantings of their crotchety old neighbor Nebbercracker, the cast is so natural that one would expect to run across such people within day-to-day life. It is this element that helps Monster House transcend an entirely surreal plot to make an idea so bizarre and twisted seem entirely real.

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.
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Awesome Movie!
happykid27924 July 2006
Spectacular visuals, unforgettable characters, and a fairy tale story with a twist! Highly recommend the Real D 3-D version if available in your area.

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.
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A Nutshell Review: Monster House
DICK STEEL26 August 2006
In almost any neighbourhood, there is always that one house, or that unit of apartment, which has spiritual connotations attached to it. It could be because of tragedy, or rumours, or just for the simple reason that it's unoccupied, or has some elderly, probably unkindly, strange looking old folk living in it, that gives the creeps to anyone under the age of 10.

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.
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The story is the key to the movie, and it's very good.
Steve Schonberger16 June 2006
Looking out his window, DJ (Mitchel Musso) sees a creepy-looking house (Kathleen Turner). It's owned by Mr Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi), who really doesn't want people on his lawn. Toys that end up there disappear, taken by Nebbercracker to discourage trespassing. DJ catalogs the lost items, but his parents (Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard) aren't interested in his observations of the house. Just before Halloween, his parents leave him home, in the care of babysitter Elizabeth (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who prefers the nickname "Z". His friend "Chowder" (Sam Lerner) visits, and joins his observation of the house. They spot Jenny (Spencer Locke, who is a girl whose parents stuck her with a boy's name) about to try to sell Halloween candy to Nebbercracker, and hurry to talk her out of approaching the house. Before long, they discover that Nebbercracker isn't the only thing that's creepy about the house. The house, it seems, has a life of its own.

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.
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3D Makes All the Difference....
elispaul21 July 2006
First of all, let me establish that I have never been impressed by the 3D process. The best that I had previously seen was "Ghosts of the Abyss", but there were still too many glitches for my eye to really buy into the process. I never had a chance to see "Polar Express" in 3D, but wasn't really anxious too because of my previous lackluster responses to the 3D experience. Then came "Monster House"....

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!
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I would take some kids, and a few adults
ken-67118 July 2006
I saw this film as part of a free screening I took my little sister to and was ready for an immature piece of fluff. Preparing for restless children making bathroom trips and throwing an occasional tantrum overshadowing a mediocre movie I was happily proved wrong. Too many CG-generated films ride on the spectacle of the animation technique keeping audiences in awe while forgoing story. While jaws drop at impossible camera angles and while 3-D rendered characters being stretched in a 2-D way we all play spot/ear the celebrity voice. The Dennis Leary as a ladybug joke can only be taken so far. Perhaps a bar is being set by Pixar to work from an entertaining script like "The Incredibles" that would make an good movie no matter how it was made. Drawing from the neighborhood ghost story and a dash of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Shunned House" Amblin delivered an entertaining popcorn movie that ranges in age appeal. The humor could have easily fallen into stereotypical characters, the familiarity of the story, and bathroom laughs, but maintains irony and, while not naive, maintains a reverence for the innocence of the characters and no doubt much of the young audience. This is a popcorn movie, no doubt, and not every gag is spot on, but it makes for a good matinée and a pretty good introduction to horror movies for a younger crowd. As a fan of animation I walked into a second-run screening of "The Iron Giant" and loved it. For me seeing a good movie outside of hype is a lot of fun. I know my expectations were low and the movie was free but I thought it was pretty cool.
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Entertaining, But Not For The Real Little Ones
ccthemovieman-16 December 2006
I guess you could label this an "edgy animated film." It's certainly wasn't made with little kids in mind. If it was, that was a mistake because this a pretty scary film in parts - much to much for the little ones.

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.
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The kind of film you have to know the end of but not the kind you'd want to see again
hazel-752-6859758 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
What really annoyed me about this film was that it was so unrealistic. This probably sounds like a stupid accusation: it's an animated movie about a monster house, but still there were some things in it that spoilt the whole thing for me. Such as: a house exploded and nobody seemed to notice or care, the only police that were involved went missing and nobody came looking for them, a house got up and walked around and nobody seemed to notice it or the path of destruction it left behind, a man fell unconscious on top of a boy and the poor kid wasn't told anything by the people in the ambulance about whether he was okay or not (wouldn't he need to get a treatment for shock or something!? He was under the impression that he'd murdered someone! How come no police were informed?)and anyone who was supposedly eaten by the house wasn't looked for, you get the gist. I didn't expect this list to be quite so long, but when you look at the entire film logically I didn't even see any cars on the street just when the monster house is stomping across the road, how convenient. In fact there hardly seemed to be any cars on the road, but maybe i'm just getting paranoid that can't be too unusual. Oh and whilst I'm complaining why on earth did Nebbercracker have dynamite in his home!?

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.
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There Goes The Neighborhood.
Jessica Carvalho2 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Douglas J. Walters ("DJ" ) is a preteen boy who is observing his neighbor, Nebbercracker, for a long time. Nebbercracker lives on the other side of their street, and is well known for his bad mood and terrible manners towards the children of the neighbor. D.J. is almost sure that Nebbercracker's house has some kind of monster inside of it, since weird things happens there, even when Nebbercracker is hospitalized and the house should be quiet.

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.
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Animation is qualitatively superior to what I've seen before
dmcginnis8622 July 2006
This film was just fabulous. Digital animation of people is supposed to be really difficult; this film made it look effortless. Unlike most animated films, the camera angles weren't static; the illusion of reality was heightened by a sense that there was a camera on-set with carefully planned pans and tracking shots. Oddly enough, I thought the basketball game early in the film was one of the best pieces of animation throughout (though it had little to do with the plot). Take note of the unsteady camera effect. (This reminded me of the CGI in "Firefly" -- the shaking camera is a particularly cool effect when you know that the entire scene is artificially created).

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!
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Not for little kids
Al Ferrell23 July 2006
The animation was incredible - best rendering yet, and the character movements so mimic how real people move it's very easy to forget you're watching an animated movie. It's for kids, but not for the littlest ones. My six year old got too scared to continue about 1/4th of the way in and she had to take him home. It lightened up later, but the scary set up was too much for him to get through. Steve Bucemi's Nebbercracker was great. I'll go back and see it again when it comes out in digital 3D later. You can see that it was set up to be a good 3D flick from the beginning. All in all very well done film; but my kid will have to be seven or eight to handle the scary set-up.
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Lots of fun
tieman644 August 2008

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.
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bad, horrible, terrible, DON'T BOTHER!!!!!!!!
amason-618 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I honestly can't believe what passes for entertainment now. Death (and making fun of death), violence, sexual innuendo, adults threatening children, crudeness, alcohol abuse by minors, drug theft, dysfunctional parents, babysitter from hell, stereotypical jokes about African Americans, police and fat people, and kids sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night - yup, sure sounds like a kids movie to me - NOT!!! Add to that the dark and scary elements - a dead woman possessing and turning into a house and keeping her loving husband a prisoner inside for over 20 years, and also terrorizing an entire neighborhood - how sweet for kids. PARENTS - is this really what you want your kids to be watching - is this what you want to teach them about life?!

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!!
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badly executed sequence of tired clichés
tone-3831 July 2006
Typical of the level of this movie is the "uvula" gag (literally). The visuals make you think this is going to be something cool and important, but what develops is one dumb joke and the weak/gross basis for an escape. The whole plot feels strained an unbalanced. There's just not a lot of fun in watching it. To anyone posting a good rating...who's paying you? How many lines does it take to say that I didn't like the movie? Before seeing it, I'd read one review that claimed there was an interesting story behind the "horror". After seeing the movie, I have to disagree. The back story thin. The flashback animations are not up to the same standard as the rest of the movie, which makes you think they were slapped in after the fact. I'm giving it a two out of ten just to save the one rating for a movie that actually does damage when you see it.
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Not convinced
Franck1 March 2007

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.
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Subpar, with a loss of focus too awkward to amend
DonFishies6 February 2007
Despite its obvious Halloween themed overtones, Monster House was released this past summer to modest box office receipts. Being a "scary" animated film in the middle of July, it did fairly well for itself. I had wanted to see it, but something felt off about the trailers and reviews I read about it. It was recently nominated for a Best Animated Film Academy Award, and just by chance, I finally had the opportunity to see it. And there indeed was something off.

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.

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Frustrating and annoying
Dustin Johnson (hawrnball)6 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Monster House looked cheaply made as far as CGI films are concerned, like they didn't want to spend the extra money creating characters in the background. Until the end, it seems as though DJ, Chowder and Jenny were the only people living in the neighborhood, which is especially odd considering the film takes place on Halloween and lacks a sense of excitement and anticipation.

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.
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i have meaner neighbours obsessed about their lawns
pookey5628 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
there was something about Mr Nebbercracker that provoked suspicion about just how terrible a guy he really was. the fact that i wondered about this is, in my opinion, a testament to the superior animation and performances in this film. The characters were well fleshed out as well. How many of us have had best friends like Chowder? Or a baby-sitter like Zee? And Jenny, the very wise preppy with a great business mind, was vulnerable yet courageous, a theme applicable to almost every character. i am a fan of everyone in this film: Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal.Kevin James, Kathleen Turner, Jason Lee,Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard, and the kids portrayed by Michael Musso, Sam Lerner and Spencer Locke...everyone was convincing, empathetic, and engaging. This collaboration by Zemekis and Spielberg delivered an excellent piece which we've come to expect from these two masters. The direction by Gil Kenan had a great mix of scariness and compassion; and the screenplay is a star unto itself. What i enjoyed the most about this film, is the tenderness and devotion, courage and tenacity shown by the lead characters. And of course, Mr Nebbercracker. Ir's about love, after all. Ir's a great family film, perhaps for older children as well as adults, and it has a kind message disguised within an 'animated' horror. And the dual meaning applies. Ir had it's scary moments for sure. and an interesting, although guessable, story line.But this didn't take away anything from the film. I enjoyed it quite a lot, and wouldn't hesitate to take my niece or nephew or friends' child just to see it again. OK. so i'd watch it again by myself or with another adult too. Highly recommended!
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Respectively the best animated feature of this year
highkite27 July 2006
Each year that one animated feature comes out that really sticks with me (Corpse Bride, Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Shrek). This year's been fairly boring, with mediocre to not-so-good movies coming out (Cars, Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, Doogle, Over the Hedge, Barnyard, The Ant Bully). It is simply a great movie for kids. Not for ones that are too young but definitely a nice gem for boys who like to get spooked. It's a thrilling ride that's as entertaining as it is stunningly visual. Gil Kenan's directorial debut comes in as somewhat of a shock, with his excellent attention to detail and incredible sense of direction with the spook-fest that is "Monster House".

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.
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A solid fun horror ride
Richard21 July 2006
I saw the 3D version of Monster House, which I recommend as THE format to see the film in.

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.
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Stay Away From Nebbercracker's Lawn
Claudio Carvalho3 March 2007
The teenage DJ is observing his neighbor Nebbercracker on the other side of their street in the suburb that destroys tricycles of children that trespass his lawn. When DJ's parents travel on the eve of Halloween and the abusive nanny Zee stays with him, he calls his clumsy best friend Chowder to play basketball. But when the ball falls in Nebbercracker's lawn, the old man has a siege, and sooner they find that the house is a monster. Later the boys rescue the smart Jenny from the house and the trio unsuccessfully tries to convince the babysitter, her boyfriend Bones and two police officers that the haunted house is a monster, but nobody believes on them. The teenagers ask their video-game addicted acquaintance Skull how to destroy the house, and they disclose its secret on the Halloween night.

"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")
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Don't bother watching
raichu31417 October 2006
Seeing the 6.9 overall rating, I figured it must be pretty good, so I went to see it. It was a complete waste of my time. There were parts that were amusing, but didn't last longer than 5 minutes combined. The rest of the movie was not inspiring, predictable, and simply unreal (especially towards the end). The characters are annoying, especially the main characters best friend. The babysitter's friend does not deserve to live. Reminded me of people I knew back in high school. They are probably jobless, walking around the streets somewhere. The only success they'll find is probably illegal. drugs or something similar.

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.
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