Lewis Barnavelt, after losing his parents, is sent to Michigan to live with his uncle Jonathan. He discovers his uncle is a warlock, and enters a world of magic and sorcery. But this power is not limited to good people: Lewis learns of Isaac Izard, an evil wizard who constructed a magical clock with black magic, as long as it exists it will keep ticking, counting down to doomsday. He died before he could finish the clock, but he hid the clock in his house, where Uncle Jonathan now lives. Now Lewis and Jonathan must find the clock before it finishes its countdown and ends the world.
In the scene where the bus pulls into town, there is a sign for Kripke Grocer, named after writer Eric Kripke. See more »
Both Lewis and his mother use the word "anyways". This incorrect, distorted pronunciation of the word "anyway" did not become widely popular until recent decades. See more »
Dear Lewis: Enclosed, please find one bus ticket and two silver dollars for your trip to Michigan. I'm really sorry about the loss of your parents. Your mom was my sister, so that makes you family. And I'll do my best to make you feel right at home. As Einstein said, life is like a bicycle. To stay balanced, you got to keep moving forward. And so will we. I look forward to meeting you. Your Uncle Jonathan. PS Sorry for the stain on the letter. That's chocolate.
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The Amblin Entertainment logo is the 80s version. See more »
Theatrical versions of the movie are longer by 10 seconds, with a bumper for Universal Parks and Resorts placed before the Amblin Partners logo. this is removed from home video releases however, instead cutting directly to the Amblin Partners logo after the credits. See more »
My knowledge of kids' fantasy horror stories ranges from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to Something Wicked This Way Comes to Goosebumps, to Harry Potter, all a bit odd, none too horrible. However, a heavy dose of that eccentric comes with the newest children's fantasy, The House with a Clock in Its Walls. The nerdiest kids should like this film; the normal maybe not so much because it lacks heavy horror!
Young orphan Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) goes to stay with his Uncle, Jonathan (Jack Black) and neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchette). So far so good except the adults are witch and warlock and the boy precocious and eccentric. As Jonathan learns the basics of magic (not the benign Harry Potter stuff), he also learns that the dead magician Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan) has tricked out his sumptuous Victorian mansion with a doomsday clock, whose discovery now is essential for mankind's survival and whose location must be found.
It is too convoluted a story to recount except that Lewis learns about necromancy and indomitability along with a bushel of new words fitting an emerging intellectual magician, albeit strange to his classmates. Lamentably, most of the horror tropes are broad and tame. A lion defecating on the nearest boy, however, should please the younger audience.
Youngsters may squirm at raising the dead while teens can easily survive that Halloween staple. Adults will be amused although disappointed at how little the comely Blanchette is used and how little humor the too-often serious Black is in a role made to order for his goofiness. Together, however, they are a comedy team worth noting. Good chemistry.
The magic of Harry Potter is not here while some of its charm resides with Lewis and the gifted witch, Mrs. Zimmerman. Along the way the film makes points about the destructiveness of wars and offers oddly funny set pieces such as when, for example, Blanchette head butts a pumpkin.
Audiences will magically or not flock to this unusually low-key horror treat. Just don't think about that lion.
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