The Haunted Mansion (5/10)
Copyright © 2003 by
This is the second
movie this year by Disney based on a Theme Park ride. The first was Pirates
of the Caribbean. Both suffer from the same faults, all fluff,
Jim Evers (Eddie
Murphy) is a real estate agent in partnership with his wife, Sara
(Marsha Thompson), who is a dead ringer for the fiancť of Master Gracey
(Nathaniel Parker), who died several centuries ago. Gracey calls Sara to
invite her to visit his mansion, which he says heís selling, and asks
her to come alone, obviously with ulterior motives. Sara doesnít want
to go, thinking Jim is devoting too much time to the business and not
enough to the family, but he insists they stop by on the way to a family
outing. Instead of coming alone, as requested, Jim and her two children,
Megan (Aree Davis) and Michael (Marc John Jefferies), accompany her,
irritating Gracey and his major domo, Ramsley (Terence Stamp).
After arrival, they
get trapped inside and all sorts of things happen to them, like
skeletons coming alive, and getting trapped in secret passages, and a
head in a bowl that talks. Amazingly, nobody gets scared, not Jim, not
Sara, and not Megan or Michael. Well, itís not very scary, although
Ramsleyís kind of creepy.
itís not very funny, either. Itís got all the prosaic, standard
scares of the genre. Maybe Abbot and Costello could have made it more
enjoyable. This cast doesnít cut the mustard.
Murphy has become a
major disappointment. After a couple of good films at the start of his
career, 48 Hours (1982), and Beverly Hills Cop (1984), he
hasnít done much since that Iíve liked (remember I Spy?). All
he contributes here is a nice smile.
Disney demeans the
art of filmmaking by using films to bolster attendance at their theme
parks. This film is such a waste.
On the plus side,
itís always a treat for me to see Wallace Shawn, who plays Ezra, a
ghost. Heís one of the more entertaining character actors extant.
Shawn made his mark with me with his beguiling performance in My
Dinner With Andre (1981). Iíve never seen him give anything but a
thoroughly professional and enjoyable performance and he keeps his
record intact here, although heís not on the screen much. And Terence
Stamp does his usual good job as the lugubrious Ramsley. Stamp is
another pro whose talent is wasted in things like this and the execrable
My Bossís Daughter earlier this year, which, if you blinked,
This isnít the
worst picture Iíve seen this year and I didnít go to sleep. But it
did flunk the watch test, even though the running time is only 82
minutes. I looked at mine innumerable times. Iíd suggest you rent My
Dinner With Andre instead of spending your money on this. If not,
maybe your children will like it.
November 22, 2003