Eppler: "House with a Clock" more fun than expected - FOX34 Lubbock

Eppler: "House with a Clock" more fun than expected

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"The House with a Clock in its Walls" is based on the first of a long series of young adult fantasy mystery novels by John Bellairs - which I'd never heard of til recently. Fortunately, the film isn't as clumsily constructed as the title.

We follow a young boy named Lewis who just lost his parents in a car crash as he goes to live with his Uncle Johnathan (played by Jack Black, who's eccentric in a Jack Black kinda way). Uncle Johnathan has a platonically playful relationship with his next door neighbor, played by Cate Blanchett. Lewis soon discovers the house holds mysteries, and Uncle Johnathan is a warlock. 

The story goes exactly as you might expect with Lewis training so he can help the grown-ups battle a terrible evil. But despite the predictability, it sure is a lot of fun. Black and Blanchett are both so good, and young Owen Vaccaro is a real find. The production design is lovely the musical score effective, and the movie has a positive message about claiming your individuality. And there's some juvenile humor for the kids. Oh, who am I kidding?I love that stuff, too.

But an even better joke is this is directed by Eli Roth, whose brand of horror ("Hostel," "Green Inferno") isn't family friendly. "House with a Clock" is his first family picture and his horror sensibilities translate well. But I would not recommend this for the youngest of children, unless you want to ensure they never get up at night to pee by themselves ever again.

There's an obvious attempt to launch a new franchise here, but only time will tell.

EPPLER'S RATING: * * * 

RATING SCALE

* * * * * Incredible - One of the best of the year
* * * * Excellent - Touches greatness with only minor quibbles
* * * Good - Plenty to like, definitely worth seeing
* * Mediocre - You can do better
* Awful  - The worst, an insult to movies

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