What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know this is a pretty scary movie, and the last 20 minutes, in particular, take a turn for the dark. With windows like eyes and a flying carpet that unfurls tongue-like out the front door to scoop up trespassers, the house is a wonderfully alive structure. But it's creepy. You don't want your kids waking up in the middle of the night freaked out that their house is going to eat them. Most of the PG content comes from the scariness; there are very few crude jokes or language issues. The kids are in constant peril, and they're not exactly role models. They break and enter, steal cough medicine, operate heavy machinery, and use sticks of dynamite. Likewise, the adults in this movie are creepy –- not just Old Man Nebbercracker, but also the uninterested babysitter, detached parents, and clueless cops.
What's the story?
You know that scary old house down the street? Turns out, it's a real live monster! This animated family horror movie –- yup, that's what it is -- centers around three kids who discover that a neighbor's house is actually a living, breathing monster. It all begins when DJ (Mitchel Musso) looks out his window at the creepy house across the street. It's old. It's run-down. And it's owned by "Old Man Nebbercracker" (Steve Buscemi), the meanest guy in town who loves terrorizing the neighborhood kids. And heaven forbid any toys should land on his lawn or he'll snatch 'em away forever. DJ starts keeping track of all the lost items, so much so that he becomes a bit of an outcast. Right before Halloween, DJ's parents (Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard) head to a convention and leave him home with a Goth babysitter, Zee (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Zee's slacker boyfriend, Bones (Jason Lee), knows all about the house. DJ's friend, Chowder (Sam Lerner) and neighbor Jenny joins in the house observations. On their watch, the kids discover that Nebbercracker isn't the only thing that's creepy about the house. The house, it seems, has a life of its own. Rounding out the cast are Skull (Jon Heder - sweet!), a pizza delivery guy and video game champ; Officer Lister (Nick Cannon), a rookie cop; Officer Landers (Kevin James), a jaded cop who's seen it all; and the house itself (Kathleen Turner, the original Jessica Rabbit).
Is it any good?
This is one of those movies where all the planets align: a top-notch crew (director Gil Kenan; executive producers Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis), memorable voices that fit the characters perfectly; and a great story, ingenious backstory, and twisty-turny ending. The motion-capture animation is the same as that used in The Polar Express, where the characters have so much personality you feel like you're watching real people. But even more important is the story, which is approaching Pixar quality. The characters and animation revolve around the story, rather than the other way around.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what the kids could have done differently.
When the adults in their lives brush off their concerns about the house, is it okay for them to figure out a solution on their own that puts them in danger?
And where WERE the adults anyway? What should THEY have done differently to help the kids through this situation?
|Theatrical release date:||July 21, 2006|
|DVD release date:||October 24, 2006|
|Cast:||Jon Heder, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Nick Cannon, Steve Buscemi|
|Genre:||Family and Kids|
|Topics:||Monsters, ghosts, and vampires|
|Run time:||91 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||for scary images and sequences, thematic elements, some crude humor and brief language.|