As mechanical as an old Disneyland automaton, "The Haunted Mansion" is the third movie in a year from the Mouse House studio based on one of its own theme park rides -- and while it's certainly no inspired delight like "Pirates of the Caribbean," at least it's not as insufferably brain-dead as "The Country Bears."
Eddie Murphy is at his family-flick hammiest as a typical workaholic Movie Dad in need of a trite examination of his one-dimensional priorities. A sycophantic phony of a real estate agent, he often misses soccer games and anniversary dinners to make a sale, so his wife (Marsha Thomason) and smart-lipped, eye-rolling kids (Marc John Jefferies, Aree Davis) are especially chagrined when he takes a detour during a family outing to try to land the account to sell a cobweb-covered manse out in the boonies.
Scripted for maximum cluelessness, it takes Murphy's clan half the movie to catch on that the house is cursed and its occupants are ghosts, and the other half to realize what any half-astute viewer can ascertain in the first 15 minutes: The family becomes trapped in the house by its dead-by-his-own-hand Edwardian master (Nathanial Parker) because he thinks Murphy's wife is his reincarnated long-lost love who can lift the curse by marrying him.
Continue reading: The Haunted Mansion Review
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