Review by Lauryn Angel
I never thought I would find myself enthusiastically recommending an Eli Roth movie for children, but here goes: The House With a Clock in Its Walls is delightful, spooky fun that’s destined to become a holiday classic – at least in my house.
Based on the novel by John Bellairs, the film is the story of Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro), a young boy with a love of dictionaries who has recently lost his parents in an accident. Lewis is sent to live with his eccentric uncle Jonathan (Jack Black) who wears kimonos instead of jackets. Lewis also meets his uncle’s next door neighbor, Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett), who bakes chocolate chip cookies and only wears purple. Uncle Jonathan’s house is a magical place, with living furniture and stained glass windows that change when Lewis isn’t looking. But Uncle Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman are keeping secrets – secrets that involve the previous owner of the house, Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan).
The movie may be a little too scary for some children – at one point, the little girl sitting in front of me started crying – but it’s also funny, thanks to the antics of Jack Black. Though they may seem like unlikely co-stars, Cate Blanchett’s dead-pan, wry humor is a great counterpoint to Jack Black’s frenetic energy. Owen Vaccaro’s performance is Lewis is a little over-wrought, but Kyle MacLachlan’s delightful turn as Isaac Izard was fantastic enough to make me forgive a little over-acting.
The film is very colorful, and there’s a lot to look at. At times, the screen is so full that it’s almost overwhelming. I have the feeling that this is a movie in which I’ll notice something new each time I see it – because I will likely watch this one again.
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