Steven Spielberg. Robert Zemekis. A possessed house, and a kid determined to figure out the mystery. What’s not to like? While Monster House is computer animated, and targeted at kids, it certainly has enough adult-oriented jokes to keep everyone entertained, and is not geared for younger kids (under 10). It’s a premise that would make Joe Dante proud: a kid and his buddy are convinced that the delapitated house across the street is not all it appears to be. When the owner (voiced by Steve Buscemi) is taken away in an ambulace, DJ and Chowder are convinced that his spirit is now haunting the house, making it swallow up everything that it touches. They save a girl, Jenny, from near-death, and now she wants to get to the bottom of the mystery. Along the way, the adults ignore the obvious, dismissing it all as overactive imaginations.
Monster House is a fun ride. It’s got a lot of formulaic moments, but those are all blessedly tempered with a lot of creative twists and turns. As it’s a CGI film, the camera has more freedom to take us on a ride, and as this film is being shows in 3D in selected theaters, I bet that would be the best venue to see it in. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s tight and punchy, and any time you have children in peril, sign me up. (Wait, that came out wrong – but you know what I mean. Think about Goonies.)
The film is directed by first-timer Gil Kenan, who has a lot of potential – this is one hell of a good start! Similarly, his composer Douglas Pipes does a nice orchestral job with the film. Everyone seems to be having fun, which makes it work for me.