Sunday, July 8, 2007

Monster House

It is often the case that the best animated films will go overlooked. Such appears to have been the case in 2006. While Monster House received generally good reviews, it did not do spectacularly well at the box office. And although nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, it lost the award to the greatly inferior Happy Feet.

This is a shame as Monster House was easily the best animated film of 2006. Unlike fellow Academy Award nominee Happy Feet, it does not bang the viewer over the head with a preachy moral. And unlike its other fellow nominee, Cars, Monster House has no slow periods. Instead Monster House presents a realistic portrait of friendship against a backdrop of very unusual circumstances. And its fairly original plot moves at a very nice pace.

Of course, animation is essential to any animated feature. In this respect Monster House stands up well even against a big name like Pixar. Much of the animation's quality can be attributed to the use of performance capture, pioneered by The Polar Express, in which the entire body (from facial express to the hands to the body itself) is captured at once. Of course, the Monster House itself was not created through performance capture, and yet it is as realistic as any of the human characters in the film. Indeed, it is the personality of the characters as created through animation and the vocal performances of the actors (which include Steve Buscemi and Kathleen Turner) that in part make Monster House so good.

Monster House will definitely appeal to adults over the age of 30 rather than the younger set. It features the sort of small town, juvenile society that existed in America for much of the Twentieth Century, until the Nineties. It was an era when children could roam about their neigbourhoods without fear, and often knew every little thing that went on in those neighbourhoods. Indeed, Monster House would appear to be a period piece set in the Eighties, even though no date is ever given. In the movie cassettes are still a source of music rather than CDs. Beepers are in use rather than cell phones. Heavy metal is still popular, and video game arcades still exist in small towns. There are even references to such Gen X artefacts as Shrinky Dinks, Pixie Stix, and Slinky. I rather suspect that much in this film will seem alien to many kids, but to adults nearly everything will seem eerily familiar.

Monster House was easily a cut above most of the animated films released in 2006. I personally think it was a shame that it was overlooked in its first release. It is definitely a movie that deserves to be seen.

Speaking of movies, I just had my blog re-rated. This time out I received a PG rating. I guess it was writing about Erin Esurance that did it....

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1 comment:

themarina said...

I completely agree and I'm actually quite surprised that it's not one that immediately comes to mind when talking about animated films, especially considering it's so darn good.