Directed by: Gil Kenan
Premise: Animated film in which two pre-teenage boys (voiced by Mitchel Musso and Sam Lerner) and a girl (voiced by Spencer Locke) discover that the house across the street is a living monster.
What Works: Monster House is a very smart film. The dialogue is great and has a lot of sharp humor that will appeal to parents and adults. Its characters and the conflicts are some of the most interesting in an animated film in a long time, maybe the best since Finding Nemo. In particular, Nebbercracker (voiced by Steve Buscemi) is a really well constructed character that elicits a great variety of emotion. As a story, Monster House sidesteps the major problem with most animated films, which is that they are too formulaic and often underestimate the intelligence of the audience. Monster House goes the other way and delivers a picture that has some twists and turns but uses character development to further the story rather than have characters who are empty vassals of the screenwriter. As a work of computer generated animation, Monster House is also significant. The film raises the bar in the look and texture of the environment and the characters. In many scenes the objects have been rendered so convincingly that they appear more like claymation than other computer animated films.
What Doesn’t: Monster House is actually very scary for a PG film and parents should be cautioned that very sensitive children might find some of the images very frightening. The film has more in common with Corpse Bride than it does with Shrek.
Bottom Line: There have been a lot of animated films this year, but Monster House is easily the best so far. The film will appeal to children and adults, and it bases that appeal on a solid story with some great visuals rather than tired pop culture references.
Episode: #108 (September 3, 2006)