Thunder, an abandoned young cat seeking shelter from a storm, stumbles into the strangest house imaginable, owned by an old magician and inhabited by a dazzling array of automatons and gizmos. Not everyone welcomes the new addition to the troupe as Jack Rabbit and Maggie Mouse plot to evict Thunder. The situation gets worse when the magician lands in hospital and his scheming nephew sees his chance to cash in by selling the mansion. Our young hero is determined to earn his place and so he enlists the help of some wacky magician's assistants to protect his magical new home.Written by
nWave Pictures Distribution
The sign on the magician's piano reads "Steinway & daughters", a reference or a tribute to Steinway & sons - the leading piano manufacturer. See more »
When we first see the orange tree music box there are no oranges on the floor around it, but after the zoom in and out there are seven oranges scattered on the floor, none of which dropped off the tree. See more »
Written by Robert Smith
(c) Fiction Songs Ltd.
Performed by The Cure
Courtesy of Elektra Entertainment Group
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
(p) 1983 Fiction Records
Courtesy of Universal Music Vision See more »
This house breaks little new ground but is nevertheless filled to the rafters with its own magic and charm.
In too many ways, the Hollywood animation industry has ruined the market for everyone else. Disney and Pixar are leading a pack – DreamWorks, Fox, Sony – that have considerable resources at their disposal: they can easily afford to hire the best talents and bombard the entire world with adorable tie-in merchandise, even if the films they're producing aren't particularly good. It's a real shame, because it means that smaller, semi-independent efforts like The House Of Magic – an utterly charming French co-production – might too easily fall by the wayside.
Abandoned by his owners, a cat sneaks into a mysterious mansion that the neighbourhood pets are convinced is haunted. In short order, our feline protagonist gains a new name (Thunder) and a new master – the genial, elderly Lawrence, a magician who lives happily in a magical world with his toys and mechanical gizmos. However, Thunder also gains a few enemies: Jack Rabbit and Maggie Mouse have no intention of allowing him to become part of Lawrence's act, even as Lawrence's nefarious nephew Danny plots to sell the house away.
Plot-wise, there isn't anything particularly special about The House Of Magic. The story marches along in largely predictable fashion – the schemes cooked up by Thunder and his buddies aren't enormously innovative and the ending of the film is never in doubt. It's also the kind of movie in which moral complexities are easier to ignore than include, so don't expect many shades of grey in the characters of Thunder, Lawrence or Danny. Even Jack Rabbit, who proves a worthy, grouchy secondary antagonist to Thunder, is quickly forgotten in the film's action-packed ending.
But it's all woven together to charming, sweet effect in the film, which benefits enormously from its excellent character design. It's easy to forgive the straightforward narrative when it's hurried along so effectively by the bouncy, adorable Thunder and his desire to be part of a family again. Lawrence's toys are also wonderfully realised: Edison, the most expressive walking lightbulb you'll ever see, is a standout, but the other supporting characters are lovingly developed too. Much of the joy in the film comes from watching them come together to thwart Danny's efforts.
Taken all together, The House Of Magic has the feel of a well-worn bedtime story: it may occasionally feel like something you've seen a thousand times before, but it's also powered by a comfortable, familiar spark of magic – the kind that makes you feel right at home, wherever you might be.
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