A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Haunted Mansion is a 2003 movie starring Eddie Murphy as a real estate agent and father of a family who ends up trapped in an old estate filled with ghosts, demons, and zombies. There are many chase scenes involving peril to young kids; these, and the atmospherics of the crypt scenes, might scare younger viewers. The mother of the movie is told she committed suicide in a past life, and this moment is interspersed with the quick image of a woman hanging dead from a noose. A ghost is dragged into a fiery pit while other ghosts dematerialize to ascend into the heavens. Younger children might be scared when the parents are threatened. Eddie Murphy's character makes reference to a ghost trying to "get jiggy" with his wife. Profanity includes "hell," "ass," "Christ," "damn," and "crap."
What's the story?
During a family trip with his wife Sara (Marsha Thomason) and two kids, workaholic realtor Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy) decides to check into things when a mysterious caller requests that Sara be the agent for a mansion outside of town. After the Evers clan arrives at the mansion, a storm rolls into the bayou, forcing the family to stay overnight as guests in the atmospheric household of Edward Gracey (Nathaniel Parker) and his spooky butler Ramsley (Terence Stamp). Once the doors slam shut, the family must solve the mystery of the spooky mansion before they can leave together again.
Is it any good?
Inspired by Disneyland's Haunted Mansion ride, the movie of the same name is about as original as you might expect. Director Rob Minkoff doesn't pull off the surprising treat that was Pirates of the Caribbean. But he does turn a six-minute ride into a 90-minute picture with a plot as thin as a spiderweb and as predictable as a Scooby-Doo episode.
The movie drags despite the near constant rushing of Jim and his children between clues. Though Jim's spiel is a lighthearted patter complemented by his kids' matter-of-fact acceptance of their surroundings, the resulting dialogue feels smarmy. Madame Leota (Jennifer Tilly) and the barbershop quartet add a little life, but you have to wonder at a movie where disembodied heads turn in the movie's most interesting performances. Thomason shows little acting range, while Terence Stamp's effortless performance appears to tap the actor's immense desire to be out of the movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about priorities and how different people in the same family might view an action in a different light. For example, Jim argues that he's trying to succeed in business so his kids will have everything they want, whereas his kids argue that they really only want time with their parents.
Why do you think Disney would make a movie based on one of their theme park rides?
How does this movie compare with other "haunted house" movies? Were the scary moments too scary for younger kids?
- In theaters: November 26, 2003
- On DVD or streaming: April 20, 2004
- Cast: Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Tilly, Terence Stamp
- Director: Rob Minkoff
- Studio: Buena Vista
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: frightening images, thematic elements and language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.