Saturday, June 17, 2006
Gil Kenan described himself as lucky when his film school short ended up in the hands of Robert Zemickis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump). Zemickis and Steven Spielberg had been kicking around an idea to make a movie about a monster house, and tapped the film school grad to direct his first picture.
I don't know why I chose to see the film Monster House, from Sony's Columbia Pictures, which will be released everywhere July 21st. I typically take my five-year-old daughter to see the animated films when they arrive at our local cineplex, and I could have chosen to see a new documentary or indie flick instead. Perhaps it gave me an opportunity to screen the film for inappropriate content before taking my child, or perhaps I just liked the title. Whatever the reason, I was glad to be apart of the first U.S. audience to see this film, which stars Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jon Heder, Fred Willard, Kathleen Turner and a trio of terrific child actors.
The film was not animated traditionally; instead, the filmmakers spent 34 days shooting the film with live actors using motion capture technology. This is the same technology that brought King Kong and The Lord of the Rings' Gollum to life. The result is an animated style that is fluid and provides the characters with a resonance that rings true.
I found the film very imaginative and entertaining, and enjoyed it immensely. The characters are compelling and ring true. There are a number of very scary moments, and it features an on-screen animated death that is darkly comic. In my opinion, the film is better suited for the older kids.
There is a scene in the film where the monster house, played by Kathleen Turner, uproots itself and goes on a rampage through the neighborhood. Kenan said he was actually able to convince Turner to perform the scene as the house. If you see the film, remember that scene was created by one of Hollywood's most beautiful actresses flailing about and pulling herself around a tiny neighborhood set by her hands. Perhaps that footage will show up as an extra on the DVD.