Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Coming from Inside the House

Does anyone remember Monster House (2006)? It made a big splash in the day, and we finally decided to watch it, even though we're beginning to think that modern animation just isn't for us.

It's about DJ, a long-faced, big-eared tween boy, just on the edge of puberty. He is obsessed with the scary house across the street and the mean old man who lives there. Any kid's toy that lands on his lawn gets confiscated - with extreme prejudice. Now, it's almost Halloween and his parents are off for the weekend, leaving him with flakey, punky babysitter Elizabeth (or "Z" as she likes to be called). His chubby goofball friend Chowder loses his ball on the scary house's lawn. Then mean old man Nebercracker comes after them - and has a heart attack and collapses on top of DJ.

So, that's pretty dark for a kid's movie. But now that the old man is gone, it seems the house was the real monster after all. It starts trying to eat people - and succeeding.

Throw in a few extra characters and you've got a real movie: a smart girl for the boys to obsess over, Z's loser boyfriend Bones, a couple of clueless town cops, and the wizard who can solve it all, a greasy video arcade master with a zip mustache called Skull (John Heder). It all ends in a frantic chase/fight scene and then a happy ending.

We liked a lot of this. We noticed Dan Harmon as one of the writers, and weren't surprised. Like Community, this is very good but just not great.
  • Animation was mostly good but sometimes the motion-capture was a little too spot on - made the characters seem like people in masks or something. Also, due to the technology, everyone had plastic hair.
  • DJ  (sensitive quiet kid) and Chowder (fat loud kid) were OK characters, but not very original. And the romantic interest wasn't exactly 3-dimensional either (even if the movie was projected in 3D in some theaters).
  • The source of the monstrosity: I won't give it away, but it isn't good. I'll just say that the true villains are the writers.
I'm glad we watched this, and I enjoyed it, but can't say it hit the mark.

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