Top positive review
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Scary for Kids, Tame for Adults, But Fun
on 22 April 2004
Jim Evers is committed to his real estate business, almost to the exclusion of his wife, also his partner in business, and kids. When they are offered an exclusive listing on a stately manor outside of town, it's too much for him to resist, and he insists on stopping on the way to a weekend trip. While they are eating dinner (they didn't seem to have much of a choice), a fierce storm comes up they are trapped for the night. The old place is creepy, however. As the characters get separated, they start to find strange things going on. Slowly, Jim and his kids begin to realize they must solve a mystery if any of them are going to get out alive.
Unfortunately for this movie, it came out so soon after PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN that the comparisons would be inevitable. It had huge shoes to fill, and comes up short. It is a fun movie in its own right, however, and deserves a look. The plot turns into a decent mystery that had me confused for most of the time. It does feature family movie cliches (workaholic dad, kid with a certain fear they'll have to over come), but builds in enough other plot elements these are kept to a minimum. Fans of the ride at Disneyland will find lots of fun nods to the inspiration to keep them entertained. There are funny moments throughout the movie. Probably my favorite gag was with the singing busts. I may have been the only person in the theater to get it, but any fan of barbershop quartets will appreciate it.
I've never been a fan of Eddie Murphy, and I did find his over the top acting to be annoying. But the other actors stepped up to the plate and kept me intrigued in spite of the lead. I especially enjoyed seeing Wallace Shawn in a hilarious turn as one of the mansion's servants trying to help Jim and the kids solve the mystery.
Don't be deceived, this movie will scare young kids. It is half comedy and half jump fest that works remarkably well. It's a tad creepier then the ride, so don't just use that as a guide. It would probably be best to watch it first and determine how your kids will react.
Disney has done this DVD right with a nice widescreen transfer and surround sound. In addition, they've got some great behind the scenes features and my favorites - outtakes and deleted scenes.
Those looking for a light scary movie will enjoy this. Just make sure your kids won't get nightmares first. A good film to make a family Halloween tradition.