As the summer of mediocrity continues to waste precious hours of my life, I’ve been begging for that one film that had me aching to clap when the credits hit… ‘Monster House’ is that film. As the streak of boredom came to an end, I found myself lost in the world brought to life by Robert Zemeckis and Stephen Spielberg, much like Spielberg’s ’85 classic film, ‘The Goonies’. I guess you can say 20 years later that this film is a modern day ‘Goonies’.
‘Monster House’ follows three kids who are on a mission to stop a haunted house from eating their belongings and the neighborhood dog. The story kicks off when the local “mean old man” Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi) apparently dies from a heart attack. His soul takes over the house to continue torturing young kids who cross his lawn.
I’m having trouble deciding where to begin as I have only positive things to say about this film, I guess the best place to start would be with the superior screenplay by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab. The other day I watched Warner Bros. Pictures’ ‘The Ant Bully’ and left the theater pretty pissed off, my fiancé on the other hand liked it. We argued and argued about the film and I was trying explain to her why the film sucked so bad – ‘Monster House’ helped prove my point with a swift kick in the butt. In my humble opinion a good kids movie is not just for kids, but also for adults. Think about it, do the children drive themselves to the theaters? Noooooo they don’t, their parents take them. What parent wants to sit in a theaters for an hour and half bored out of their skulls while their kids throw popcorn, scream and kick people’s seats? A good kids movie has the parents leaving happy that they shared the experience with their little ones.
A good joke falls into various categories in a film like this, you have the organic joke that fits right into the situation at hand (something you might say with your friends); then there’s the physical comedy, which is more for children; lastly you’ve got the “over the head” jokes, which adults catch and kids pretend to understand (and laugh). ‘Monster House’ capitalizes on all fronts and blends together a shockingly good time that both parents and their kids will love. The film is loaded with adult comedy such a jokes about puberty, gender, drinking and more; it’s quite amazing how much they were able to sneak into the film.
As for the actually storyline, the progression was flawless. The story unfolded as a perfect adventure should – even the climax was more exciting than the surprise cliffhanger at the end of ‘Pirates 2’. The story also carries a few great twists that only enrich the quality of the picture’s grand finale (Shyamalan, are you paying attention?).
Even though the film is animated, it was shot using motion capturing devices so the actors actually had to perform their scenes as if they were there – that’s not an easy task. If you look at the casting it only makes sense that everyone was on the top of their game: Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Steve Buscemi, Nick Cannon, Matthew Fahey, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jon Heder, Kevin James, Jason Lee, Ryan Newman, Catherine O’Hara, Kathleen Turner and more! Even in the midst of greats like Jason Lee and Steve Buscemi there is a mega star that has just been born, Sam Lerner, who plays the comic relief in Chowder (your modern day Chunk). I don’t think I have ever laughed this hard at a character in a kids movie, which really says something (maybe about me?). I really am sure that a lot of his jokes were improvised and if they were we just might have a little comic genius on our hands. I’d love to sit here and talk about each and every character (as they were all fantastic) but then the review would be six pages, so let’s move on to the best part… the 3-D!!!
Word on the street is that 3-D should f-ck off, go away forever. I’m here lobbying for it to stay, forever. I’ve seen ‘Chicken Little’ in 3-D and all of those great Disney films at the theme parks (gooo Captain EO!), ‘Monster House’ is by far the single best 3-D film ever created. My brother made a great point in that Gil Kenan, who directed the film, made a conscious effort in removing those cheesy “in your face” 3-D gags and instead focused on using the 3-D to enrich the viewing experience. And whoever did the actual 3-D animation deserves a monster-sized pat on the back. The way the smoke flowed across the screen was remarkable and the way the depth was created in shots involving mirrors and reflections had me gasping like it was the first time I ever saw a film… speaking of first time…
I think that’s why this film is an instant masterpiece, seeing it in 3-D was almost like seeing a movie for the first time as a young child, which made it almost as if you were a child watching it. This is easily one of the best films of the year and I highly suggest you check it out in super sexy 3-D. If you miss this bad boy in theaters you deserve your own swift kick in the butt.