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

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

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.