Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jon Heder, Kevin
James, Jason Lee
If 2006 has taught us anything, it's that digital animation
is here to stay. Everyone and their proverbial brothers are
taking their shot at pumping out a digitally animated flick.
Fortunately, though, Monster House is one of the few
movies not featuring animals or ants.
Monster House begins with DJ, in his own prepubescent
stalker way, observing the crotchety old neighbor, Mr. Nebbercracker.
The scrawny old man tend to chase off anyone who comes on
his lawn. When DJ's good friend, the goofy Chowder, comes
over and loses his new basketball in the forbidden lawn, DJ
comes into conflict with Nebbercracker, which eventually brings
the ambulance around to cart off the deceased old man.
Quickly, the two boys discover that the house is haunted
and assume that it's the spirit of the Mr. Nebbercracker,
who continues his cranky war against anyone who goes onto
his lawn. When prep-school Jenny tries to sell candy to the
haunted house, the two boys save her. The three kids, who
have all the parental supervision a punk rocker older sister
can provide while she's looking for her missing boyfriend,
plot to put the house to sleep and enter it in hopes of defeating
the house before it devours the upcoming Halloween Trick-or-Treaters.
The animation of the movie is finely done on many points,
but still suffers from the one thing that has plagued digital
animation to this point: making humans look real. While the
motion captured body movements and a lot of the facial animations
look excellent and really sell the characters well, the plastic
look and feel of their hair and clothing makes you feel as
though you may just be watching animated action figures. This
is not all bad as the style of the movie does work nicely
without being overly stylistic. Textures on the house and
lawn look spectacular and a lot of the inanimate objects are
Whoever thought this would be a great kids movie was dead
wrong. It's dark in its telling, not unlike something from
Tim Burton or Roald Dahl. While you could take your children,
be sure that they don't mind some scary images, unless you
want to spend some time deprogramming them from potential
Overall, the story isn't overly unique. It feels as though
I read something like this many times over when I was younger.
That's not really a bad thing, but don't expect some overly
unique story experience. Also, I have to wonder why this came
out in July rather than around Halloween as it seems perfect
for that time of year. Still, if you love digital animation
and know your kids can handle a fright or two, be sure to
check it out as it stands well in a field that's starting
to get a little too crowded.