The Haunted Mansion

"Good"

The Haunted Mansion 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.



The Haunted Mansion

Facts and Figures

Run time: 88 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 26th November 2003

Box Office USA: $75.8M

Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures

Production compaines: Walt Disney Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 13%
Fresh: 18 Rotten: 117

IMDB: 4.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jim Evers, as Ramsley, as Master Gracey, as Sara Evers, as Madame Leota, as Emma, as Ezra

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.