The Haunted Mansion Movie Review

Attendance must be down at Disney theme parks. It's the only explanation I can come up with that would explain the Mickey Mouse conglomerate's insistence on making movies based on attractions in its parks. After all, what better way to remind us that we're overdue for a visit? Earlier this year, The Pirates of the Caribbean dazzled us with its vivid animation and special effects, while last years The Country Bears fizzled behind some silly singing animals. As Disney's third attempt, The Haunted Mansion flourishes more than it flounders, but only works as mindless entertainment.

Eddie Murphy stars as a sleazy realtor named Jim Evers, who along with his wife Sara (Marsha Thomason), have built one of the most successful real estate practices in New Orleans. Jim has closed a record seven deals in the last month alone, yet despite the success, Sara has grown tired of Jim's absence from their children's soccer games and team barbeques. Deciding it is time for a vacation, the Evers set out on a road trip. But before they leave town, Jim must make one last deal at the sprawling Edward Grace Estate.

Upon arrival, Ramsley the butler (Terence Stamp), greets the family at the door and quickly shuffles them to the dining room where they will dine with Master Gracey (Nathaniel Parker). As they eat in front of a massive fireplace, a torrential rainstorm blows over the estate that floods the grounds and forces the Evers to spend the night. At first, Jim promises the clan that he will only need about 20 minutes at the mansion; yet, once the family finds out the true meaning of their visit, getting out will be a much more difficult task.

Fresh from the Disney writers' program, David Berenbaum pens a hokey script where the Evers find themselves dealing with the ghost of Gracey's grandfather's true love who died on her wedding day and has now come back to haunt the mansion. Mild themes regarding courage and better parenting are addressed on the surface, but are never fully explored like in other Disney films. The story's only real purpose is to allow Murphy time to flash his phony smile, tell listless jokes, and run around the estate like a chicken with its head cut off. Simply add this film to Murphy's growing list of bad movie choices, where a more viable supporting cast upends his performance.

Murphy doesn't completely kill the entire movie - two performances are particularly memorable. Jennifer Tilly is amusing as a gypsy woman psychic whose head lives inside a crystal ball and spouts complicated instructions to the hapless Murphy. Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride) delivers some of the funniest moments as a ghostly servant whose quick wit and dry humor is delivered to perfection in his trademark deadpan tone.

The real star of Mansion however is the house and its inhabitants as created by the famous creature creator Rick Baker. There are secrets in each room and hallway - sliding walls open to reveal lost passageways; tombs cover entrances to elaborate underground caverns filled with zombies; statues and paintings come alive to reap a playful havoc. The heads of one particular group of statues slows down Jim Ever's chicken race by singing entertaining tunes like a barbershop quartet would.

The Haunted Mansion provides only a few moderate scares as you might expect, and there is just enough charm to give this attraction a marginal recommendation. Of course, when you think about it, it'll cost you much less to take this route to the theme park, and now you can tell Disney you visited.

DVD extras are exhaustive but only so-so in quality; a single deleted scene and gag reel are skippable, various videos, making-of docs, and commentaries are also not really standouts. That said, the DVD production -- particularly the sound design -- is exemplary. Check it out.

Boo.


Comments

The Haunted Mansion Rating

" OK "

Rating: PG, 2003

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

Beyonce and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Tease Us With Tantalising 15 Second Teaser Clip [Video]

Beyonce teased us all over the weekend, when she shared a 15 second...

Beyonce and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Tease Us With Tantalising 15 Second Teaser Clip [Video]

Robert Downey Jr Crowned King of the Box Office

With an estimated income of $75 million between June 2013 and June 2014, Downey Jr...

Robert Downey Jr Crowned King of the Box Office

George Clooney On Getting That Tabloid Apology And Why He Had To

Ahead of his wedding to Amal Alamuddin, George Clooney has...

George Clooney On Getting That Tabloid Apology And Why He Had To

A Short History of Forgotten Destiny’s Child Member Farrah Franklin

Farrah Franklin, the forgotten fourth member of Destiny’s Child, found herself...

A Short History of Forgotten Destiny’s Child Member Farrah Franklin

Sons of Anarchy Final Season: Charlie Hunnam Spills Details

Speaking at the Television Critics Association preview night on Monday, lead actor...

Sons of Anarchy Final Season: Charlie Hunnam Spills Details

Vin Diesel Talks This Summer's Weirdest Bromance

Yet in conversation with Access Hollywood, Diesel summed up the relationship between...

Vin Diesel Talks This Summer's Weirdest Bromance
Advertisement

Rixton - Me and My Broken Heart Single Review

There's a new boyband on the UK pop scene who have somehow managed to storm single charts...

Rixton - Me and My Broken Heart Single Review

RIP Krusty the Clown? His 10 Best Moments

Krusty the Clown may have chucked his last chuckle and played his last Itchy and Scratchy...

RIP Krusty the Clown? His 10 Best Moments

Bachelorette No Longer: Ashley And JP Rosenbaum Find Out Sex Of Baby On Live TV

After being on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, some people like to retire...

Bachelorette No Longer: Ashley And JP Rosenbaum Find Out Sex Of Baby On Live TV


More recommendations

Advertisement