The House With A Clock In Its Walls (2018) & Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018) Reviews

Two more quick October reviews for two current “scary” family films…

The House With A Clock In Its Walls (2018) Review

Directed by Eli Roth

Based on The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs

Starring: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sunny Suljic, Kyle MacLachlan

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a young boy who is sent to live with his uncle in a creaky old house. He soon learns it was previously also inhabited by a nefarious entity.

My Opinion:

This was an enjoyable family film that unfortunately was slightly ruined by a terrible cinema experience. Why are people such inconsiderate wankers?

Let me see if I can remember what happened in this movie in between all the chatting, the guy shining his phone light to be able to dip his nachos into his supermarket salsa, and the kid’s LED shoes constantly flashing and lighting up the entire cinema. I was excited for another “scary” family film starring Jack Black after really enjoying watching the first Goosebumps movie with my daughter. Well, I still prefer Goosebumps but this was at least a lot better than Goosebumps 2 (review below). I don’t think this quite has the magic of other family fantasy films and the characters aren’t as strong as I’d have liked although all the actors did well in their roles. When compared to things like A Series Of Unfortunate Events (my kid loves that series) or to something like Harry Potter, this story feels a bit forgettable. It was fun, however, and I wonder if the book was a bit more in-depth and if this adaptation didn’t fully do it justice.

Fuck it – I was so distracted that I feel like an ass even attempting to “review” this. It was entertaining and Black & Blanchett worked very well together. Slight spoiler but, basically, the baddie wants to make everyone in the world disappear to which I replied rather loudly “Can he start with this audience??“. This is worth a watch if you like a slightly dark family film. It’s not for the very young but there’s nothing at all unsuitable for ages 6 or so & up.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

Directed by Ari Sandel

Based on Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

Starring: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Madison Iseman, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris, Chris Parnell, Ken Jeong

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows two young boys accidentally releasing Slappy the Dummy and the Goosebumps monsters in their town, causing a wave of destruction on Halloween night.

My Opinion:

This was a very big disappointment. I liked the first film a lot, even though I was too old to read Goosebumps by the time R.L. Stine wrote those (I did read earlier stuff of his). But that series of books is very much the type of “scary & weird” stuff that I loved as a young kid and I was happy to share that movie with my own kid and to have her briefly get into reading the Goosebumps books. But she’s off those now. Damn! I’ll probably never manage to get her into the original Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Hour TV shows that I loved at her age. I was such a weirdo.

The first Goosebumps movie was a great “scary” family film. It was fun and I would imagine that fans loved seeing so many of Stine’s book characters come to life. It had a good story with a great twist for kids (though completely predictable to someone who grew up on The Twilight Zone). The main characters were strong, especially Stine’s daughter, and that relationship was great. The second film is just an inferior copy with weak characters that no one will really care about in the same way. Once again, Stine’s characters are brought to life but on a smaller scale. Slappy is the main star of this one, which is fine as those ventriloquist dummies have always given me the creeps. But so much time is spent on him instead of the character development of the actual humans in the story. Plus, slight spoiler: Jack Black is barely in this film. It’s really not much more than a cameo, which is another huge disappointment if you’re a fan (I am but I know many aren’t). It felt like a TV episode of Goosebumps instead of a movie. Oh well. I’m sure that fans of the books will still get some enjoyment out of it but it feels like a cash grab.

My Rating: 6/10

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Despicable Me 2 (2013) Review

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**SPOILER FREE REVIEW**

Despicable Me 2

Directed by Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud

Starring Voice Actors:
Steve Carell
Russell Brand
Kristen Wiig
Benjamin Bratt
Steve Coogan
Ken Jeong
Miranda Cosgrove

Music by Pharrell Williams & Heitor Pereira

Studio: Illumination Entertainment
Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Plot Synopsis:

After becoming a father to Margo, Edith, and Agnes, Gru is no longer an evil mastermind and is instead throwing kids’ birthday parties & making jelly. That is, until he’s recruited by the Anti-Villain League and must help save the world from a new evil villain…

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My Opinion:

I’m a HUGE fan of the first Despicable Me. It’s the first (and only) non-Disney or Pixar animated film that I’ve ever really liked. Everything about it is brilliant – the relationship between Gru and the three girls who are loveable without ever being overly saccharine and feisty without being bratty, the hilarious minions (one of the greatest cinematic creations in recent years in my opinion), and both Steve Carell & Russell Brand being genuinely funny instead of sometimes slightly annoying. Luckily, all these things are again present in Despicable Me 2.

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It was never going to live up to the first one (not many sequels do). But at least it comes close, so I’m happy with that. It starts early on with a birthday party for Agnes, which reminds us how much Gru fell in love with these three girls and how he’d do anything for them. I love the relationship between Gru and the girls – It was great seeing that develop in the first one and to watch Gru go from villain to hero so, of course, we don’t get that in this film. But we still see plenty of Gru & the girls together in this one and, at the end, we get a moment ALMOST as sweet as when Gru reads the girls the story he wrote in the first Despicable Me (that scene gets me every time!). And we get Gru being a (very!) overly protective father when Margo starts showing an interest in boys. Some great funny scenes involved with that!

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And then, of course, we have the MINIONS. Oh man – I love those little dudes so much! I want my own army of minions. And they’re as hilarious as always. Luckily, there are a lot more scenes with them in this one than in the first film. That’s a good thing (to me, at least). And they’re even more funny this time. I won’t spoil anything but I’ll say they sing a song at one point and the “lead singer” REALLY cracked me up. And there are so many little funny “blink and you’ll miss it” moments with the minions – it’s a lot like how you really need to pay attention to what’s happening in the background of Pixar films. The minions are just plain brilliant – I can see why they’re making a whole movie just about them.

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I really have nothing bad to say about this film other than, overall, the plot was weaker than the one in the original movie. And the new character of Lucy Wilde, who works with Gru as part of the Anti-Villain League, borders on annoying (which is kind of the point anyway). But so does Kristen Wiig, who voices this character. But these are pretty minor things and didn’t ruin my enjoyment at again seeing these characters for whom I have such affection. And, again, the music is brilliant thanks to Pharrell Williams & Heitor Pereira – something I also loved about the first one. And Gru goes on a pretty hilarious date with a woman far more annoying than Kristen Wiig… Plus we have cross-dressing minions again – one dressed as a French maid and one in frilly underwear. Okay – maybe I’m immature but cross-dressing minions are awesome. 😉

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Summary:

Doesn’t quite have the heart of the first one but definitely has all of the humor, if not more. This movie is genuinely hilarious, which is very hard for kids’ films to achieve (trust me – the adults in our sold-out cinema were laughing as much as the kids). Despicable Me 2 is just plain FUN. But, if for some reason you’ve not seen the first one, definitely watch it before seeing the sequel – you really need to understand the characters of Gru & the girls. You’re missing out if you’ve not seen the first one. If you have and if you love it, you won’t be disappointed by the sequel.

My Rating: 7.5/10

(If you’re curious, my 1st Despicable Me rating: 9/10)

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**Forgot to add – there are quite a few funny extra scenes with the minions throughout the credits so you might want to stay for that. I believe there’s no scene AFTER the credits…

Movies I’ve Seen In 2013