Movie Review – “Monster House”

Released during the summer of 2006, most assumed Monster House was “just another animated flick”. Fortunately, they were wrong. Monster House is an intelligent little film with a great script, clever humor and likeable characters. The film is extremely well written with fantastic visuals. The writers have taken a basic premise and created a loveable world around it. Directed by Gil Kenan, Monster House is about a living house with an evil disposition that torments the neighborhood kids. A kid who lives across the street and his friends are the only ones who can stop it. After his parents go out of town, DJ and his friend Chowder, recruit Jenny and attempt to unmask the truth behind the monstrous nature of the house. The kids try to tell the police and adults about the house, but who’s going to believe a group of kids? No one. With one day remaining before Halloween, the pre-teens decide to fight back and end the Monster House’s torments. 

The film is full of sharp-witted scenes. Early in the film, DJ and Chowder stay up all night spying on the house from DJ’s room. They never leave his room, not even to pee. They’ve been urinating in empty soda bottles throughout the duration of the stakeout. The next day Jenny is introduced and the two friends create a small rivalry to win over the pretty girl. This tension creates hilarious instances not to be missed. Each character brings something needed to the table. DJ is the leader and has the courage to do anything that is needed. Chowder is the over-weight, clumsy, comical side kick. Rounding out the trio is Jenny, who’s intelligence keeps the other two in check.

Throughout the film, secondary characters are introduced. Although they have minimal screen time each character is essential to the film. For these roles, the filmmakers were able to get some good voice work from established actors. Steve Buscemi plays the creepy old homeowner. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kevin James, Jason Lee and Jon Heder also lend their talents. Even Kathleen Turner has a small role. But her overweight animated character is a far cry from her hotter than hot Jessica Rabbit! One of the characters plays an old 8-bit style arcade game. It’s called “Thou Art Dead” and you can actually play it on the Monster House website. The scene during the movie is hilarious and the game is great!

Monster House is beautifully animated with vibrant colors and wonderful camera angles. The characters are animated by use of motion capture, similar to The Polar Express. But the humans are purposely cartoony looking, staying away from that creepy realness other films have attempted to overcome. The actual “Monster House” character is a frighteningly awesome design that has human-like qualities. The final climatic scene should not be missed.

I think we can all relate to a movie like this. As a kid there was always a creepy house on your block. I remember when I was a kid, my neighbors house looked like it was owned by the Manson family. The landscaping hadn’t been touched in ages. It also brings you back to your childhood, when you had zero priorities and no car insurance payments. Ah, those were the days. Anyway, this is a perfect Halloween movie for kids and adults. It’s also a good movie to own. It doesn’t get stale or boring on repeat viewings. Instead of watching Halloween 5 for the umpteenth time, get yourself a copy of Monster House, you won’t regret it.

4.5 Headstones out of 5


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