What are the odds?  I go to a movie about the World Trade Center, an art-house movie about drugs and government corruption, and a racing comedy starring Will Ferrell… and the one movie that I enjoyed most out of the entire week is a kid’s movie about a house that eats people.

What are the odds?  I ask you, what are the odds?

That’s right Halloweinies, its Monster House, a good old-fashioned family haunted house adventure rendered in beautiful and somewhat creepy computer generated animation.  the only negative thing I can really say about this movie is that it’s a cartoon and it had no reason to be.

So what’s my beef with cartoons you ask?  I have no beef with cartoons but there are certain times when movies should be cartoons and movies should not be cartoons and this is one of those instances where the movie should not have been a damn cartoon.

Look at it this way, right now there’s a Tim Allen family movie stinking up theaters called Zoom.  To be fair, I haven’t seen this movie to know how badly it stinks, but given that it’s currently setting at zero on the Rotten Tomatoes scale I don’t hold out much hope that it will surprise me.  It might, but I doubt it.  So, it stinks.

So why talk about terrible Tim Allen movie at this point?  Ask yourself this: how often does a good live-action family movie come around?  The answer is, not a very darn often.  In fact, I think that the last one that I actually enjoyed was Holes and that was ages ago.

It seems that family films have taken on a certain mystique… you have cartoon and live-action.   Live-action movies will suck and cartoons will suck a little less and the public knows this… that’s why they stay away from the live action stuff.  That’s why Zoom failed!

If Hollywood wants to change that perception, it’s going to have to shift its thinking and when a movie comes along like Monster House, it’s going to have to take a good hard long look at it and decide whether it should be live-action or cartoon. 

In this case, at least in my humble opinion, Monster House should have been a live-action movie.  Let’s face it, it was just a movie about kids.  Why was it animated?  Aside from the Monster House itself which could’ve easily been done with CGI, there was nothing overly fantastic about the visuals in this film.  In fact, I believe that if Monster House had been a real live-action movie with real flesh and blood kids, it would’ve made well over $150 million at the box office.  As it stands now it will be lucky to break even.

Now, don’t you let my little tirade above make you think that I didn’t enjoy this movie.  The truth is, I enjoyed the hell out of it.  I enjoyed this movie probably better than I’ve enjoyed most movies in the last month.

Monster House, you see, is a great good old-fashioned fantasy adventure akin to The Never-Ending Story or Crash about three children trying to save their neighborhood from a haunted man-eating house.

The story behind this movie is intelligent and fun and the entire movie always has that sense of fear in danger, but not enough to disqualify it from being a quality family movie. Monster House never seems to lose its sense of youthful carefree while still managing to go right into Steven King territory.

The motion capture technology used to animate this movie is probably its most fatal flaw as the animated characters appear to be animated plastic dummies more than cartoon characters which makes the movie all that much more creepy, but for altogether different and completely wrong reasons.

I enjoyed this movie…  I enjoyed it very very much but, I can’t help but think what this movie would’ve been like with flesh and blood actors and someone like Tim Burton attached to it.  Personally, I think it would’ve been the movie of the summer… too bad the story was pigeonholed as something that should have been animated and ended up forgotten in a summer glutted with mediocrity and throwaway CGI movies.

I urge you all to check this movie on in theaters, and if you don’t do that at least read this thing on DVD.  It’s a scream!

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Written by Jason Gaston

Father, teacher, writer, photographer, artist, actor, male model, and inventor of the semicolon.

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