Sunday, July 23, 2006

Monster House

I know what the title promises, but I was still happy (and admittedly more than a little scared) to find there was indeed something spooky in this house, not just in the minds of our young heroes.

"Monster House," which I thoroughly enjoyed, is an oddity from start to finish. Sure, there are always jokes aimed at adults thrown into animated movies, bones for the grown folk who have to sit through all these movies with their kids.

But "Monster House" is a movie for adults masquerading as an animated summer flick for kids. Don't get me wrong ... there's nothing inappropriate about this movie (except for that scary house for the truly young!). But in its nostalgic look at the spirit of adventure that drives youthful curiousity, I think it will work best for grownups.

Heck, I'm not even sure the kids I see today have that spirit anymore, but that's another topic for another time. I've seen "Monster House" many many times compared to "The Goonies." While it never reaches those heights, it does have a clear view of the summit.

The voice work in "Monster House" is solid throughout, starting with our three young heroes. Though Mitchel Musso as DJ and Spencer Locke as Jenny fare well, just as with "Goonies," it's up to the fat kid to steal every scene he's in, and Sam Lerner is up to the task as Chowder.

Among the adults, Steve Buscemi is great as neighborhood crank Mr. Nebbercracker, and Maggie Gyllenhaal is perfectly haughty as the babysitter Zee. Luckily I had forgotten that Jon Heder was in this one, so when he finally did pop up as the video game guru Bones I was caught off guard and just couldn't help but laugh very loudly as soon as he started talking.

Zemeckis and his crew of animators have come a long way from "Polar Express," but the characters still have an odd, otherworldly look about them that I'm still getting used to. They just don't look real to me, but that was only a minor annoyance. The house itself, once it really came to life and started chasing after our heroes, was a real gas, even if it did look more than a little like "Howl's Moving Castle" (sorry, I just can't help but compare all animated movies to Miyazaki .. it's an annoying habit, I know.)

It's a fun ride, and for my money a lot more entertaining than "Cars." Still, the prize for best animated flick for this summer has to go to "Over the Hedge," which just had a manic spirit to it that had me instantly hooked.

Unfortunately, it looks like its all downhill from here as far as animation this summer. The only preview before my screening of "Monster House" was for "Open Season." Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher in yet another domestic-animal-entering-the-wild flick? I think I'll pass. And "Barnyard" looks like it will mostly be about some of the more unfortunate sounds you might hear coming from an overfed cow. Sheesh.


TacoDave said...

Yeah, but I saw it in 3-D! That made it win!

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm very jealous, tacodave .. that might just have put Monster House in front for me too

asdf said...

I just caught it tonight. The little fat dude had me rolling all night.