out of Five
Running time: 91
Extremely enjoyable adventure with impressive animation, engaging characters and a decent mixture of both hilarious and scary moments.
What's it all about?
12 year-old DJ Walters (voiced by Mitchel Musso) and his chubby pal Chowder (Sam Lerner) are convinced that there's something weird about the creepy house across the street where cranky old Mr Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi) lives. When DJ's parents (Catherine O'Hara and Fred
Willlard) go away for the Halloween weekend, DJ, Chowder and their new friend Jenny (Spencer Locke) give their babysitter (Maggie Gyllenhaal) the slip and decide to investigate the house, little realising that it’s alive!
The animation of Monster House is truly spectacular, creating a three dimensional world that's packed with believable details whilst really cutting loose in the fantasy sequences where the house comes to life. The script is excellent too, combining witty lines and an engaging plot with exciting, frequently scary set-pieces.
However, the real strength of the film lies in its beautifully drawn, thoroughly engaging characters – these are people you really care about. The bickering between the three children (all wonderful) is extremely funny and Buscemi is terrific as old Mr Nebbercracker.
There are also strong comic performances from the likes of Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee (as the babysitter's stoner boyfriend), Jon Heder (as a local gamer with haunted house knowledge) and Kevin James and Nick Cannon as a pair of hilariously inept cops.
With executive producers Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg on board, it's clear that a lot of hard work has gone into getting this film exactly right. As a result, director Gil Kenan maintains a cracking pace throughout whilst perfectly blending the comedy and horror elements of the film.
While certain elements of Monster House might be too scary for very small children it is unquestionably worth seeing. With stunning animation, loveable characters and a witty script this is the best children's film of the year so far. Highly recommended.