Monster House
We’re not trick or treating at THAT house.

Theatrical Release Date: 7/21/2006
Director: Gil Kenan
Featuring the Voices of: Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Jon Heder, Kathleen Turner

Nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 79th Academy Awards, “Monster House” comes from executive producers Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis.

Their imagination and attention to detail comes through, under the care of director Gil Kenan, to create the kind of kid-friendly monster movie that hasn’t been seen on the big screen lately.

In “Monster House”, DJ and his best friend Chowder discover that the house across the street is possessed, eating anything and anyone that comes within reach. With the help of the precocious Jenny, they set out to stop the evil house before it feasts on unwitting trick-or-treaters the following Halloween night.

I thought this film had a lot of heart and combined a fun story with great motion capture effects (which were a variation of those used in “The Polar Express”).

Sadly, this did lose out on the Oscar, though it shouldn’t have considering its competition (“Cars” & “Happy Feet” were not worth my time).

I wonder if that’s because the film is not really too kid friendly. I can imagine children under eight to ten years-old would have some issues and resulting nightmares.

Not to say this film is scary to adults but it follows all the same beats as a cheesy teen horror flick, all disguised in a gooey, kid-friendly style.

Heck, even the MPAA didn’t really know what to do with this. According to IMDb, in order to keep a PG rating, the film had to show various characters eaten by the house alive and well by the end of the feature.

So … it’s okay for kids to see people die, as long as they’re brought back from the dead? Why are zombie flicks rated R? ;)

All of the voice work is well done and features a host of notable names, the animation is a nice mix of realism and fantasy and the story is far smarter than most children’s films.

I’m giving “Monster House” a 3 out of 5. It ably taps into the fun and whimsy of some of my favorite childhood films like “The Goonies” and “Monster Squad” – and while it isn’t perfect, it is easily one of, if not the best, animated films from 2006.