Three pubescent teens battle a neighbor's house that has an appetite for people (which doesn't do much for property value). Filmed with the same motion-capture animation as "The Polar Express" and featuring the voices of Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee and Nick Cannon.
Big question: Are recognizable celebrity voices enough to make 'House' appealing?
Skip it: This is downright ugly animation; the characters either look like toys that have come to life or people dressed up in human costumes. "Monster House" is scary enough to entertain young 'uns but not nearly imaginative enough for anyone who has hit puberty.
Catch it: If this line from the movie describes your video game habits: "He once played for four days straight on one quarter, a gallon of chocolate milk and an adult diaper."
Bottom line: Tim Burton could probably work wonders with this set-up, but as directed by first-timer Gil Kenan, "Monster House" crumbles quickly. Worse, the lone minority character is a complete fool and the onscreen kids either mock or fear the overweight, both pretty monstrous messages to send to a young audience.
Bonus: Now's a good time to make sure your home is a vegetarian. Think of the children!
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
Directed by Gil Kenan; screenplay by Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab and Pamela Pettler; cinematography by Xavier Perez Grobet; edited by Adam P. Scott and Fabienne Rawley; production design by Ed Verreaux; music by Douglas Pipes; produced by Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke. A Columbia Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:31. MPAA rating: PG (for scary images and sequences, thematic elements, some crude humor and brief language).
DJ - Mitchel Musso
Chowder - Sam Lerner
Jenny - Spencer Locke
Nebbercracker - Steve Buscemi
Mom - Catherine O'Hara
Dad - Fred Willard
Zee - Maggie GyllenhaalCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times