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  Publicity Stills of "Monster House"
(Courtesy from Columbia TriStar)

Genre: CG Animation
Director: Gil Kenan
Voice Talents: Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Steve Buscemi, Nick Cannon, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kevin James, Jason Lee, Catherine O'Hara, Kathleen Turner, Fred Willard, Matthew Fahey, Jon Heder, Ryan Newman
RunTime: 1 hr 31 mins
Released By: Columbia TriStar
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 9 November


Three kids, D.J., Chowder and Jenny, discover that their neighbor's house is a monster, but no one believes them.

Movie Review:

Whoever came up with the title for this latest animated feature released by Sony Pictures sure isn’t the most imaginative folk around. The title tells you everything about the 91-minute movie. Heck, even the poster gives the plot away: three meddling kids get into trouble with a haunted house in the neighbourhood. Yes, that’s about it.

But wait - this family picture featuring motion capture animation is a whole bag of fun, with a bit of everything in it, from intelligent humour, a considerably touching plot, to dare we say it: some really scary moments.

The story is so straightforwardly simple, it sounds like it’s lifted from one of those storybooks you had when you were young. Three kids realize that a house in the area they live in is actually alive, and is eating up anything that venture into its lawn. Poor kids, not only do they have to handle this terrifying house, they have to manage their own adolescence – all before bedtime!

Mitchell Musso, Sam Lerner and Spencer Locke (who had their own share of television starring roles) bring these three characters to life with their brilliant voice acting. Musso gives earnestness to D.J., the kid everyone wants to like in the neighbourhood. Lerner, who plays Chowder, has that tone of a typical sidekick who sadly suffers from a high Body Mass Index (BMI) and eventually messes everything up. Meanwhile, Locke gives her character Jenny, the right amount of spunk without making her the resident bitch every girl wants to hate.

And these voices are complemented by the eye-pleasing visuals created by the geniuses behind the animation team. Although one look at the characters and you’d know they are not modeled realistically, their movements and gestures are all animated so naturally, you’d find yourself in awe with the technology used.

Look out for the baby sitter and her rocker boyfriend voiced by the wonderful Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jason Lee – despite their brief roles and limited screen time, they are a hoot to watch.

Then we have the storyline. Never did we expect that the plot actually involves some really affecting parts, where viewers feel for the story when the truth behind the monster house is unraveled. It may actually make you feel for the monstrosity behind that hideous apartment.

Not only does that aspect of the movie deserves commendation, the issues dealt within its runtime get thumbs up from us too. Issues of puberty, everlasting faithful love and staying idealistic and true to your childhood is dealt with in a fun and effective manner, without being too preachy. And everyone could do with some smart and sharp dialogue, which isn’t lacking in this movie.

You might want to think again if you have the preconceived notion of animated flicks being mere kiddy and cute “cartoons”. Our friends at the censorship board did not rate this movie Parental Guidance (PG) for nothing.

Some sequences may just make you jump or squirm in your seat. And the last third of the movie will bring you on a no-brainer roller-coaster ride, if that satisfies the thrill-seeker in you.

For the really young, this movie is perfect for their first horror experience. For the teenagers, this movie is ideal for that weekend outing with their friends. As for the adults, this movie is great, simply because it is one monstrously fun experience without being dumb.

Movie Rating:

(Guaranteed enjoyable, this movie is an impressive animated houseful of intelligent fun for everyone)

Review by John Li


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