The House With a Clock in Its Walls (movie) *spoilers after OP*

I saw it last night.
The House With a Clock In Its Walls, by John Bellairs, is one of my favorite childhood books. I think it was the first book I actually found scary.

So I went into this movie knowing that it would be different from the book experience, trying to keep an open mind and let it be its own separate thing. I think they’ve made a perfectly cromulent kid’s movie here, though I doubt it’s going to become a beloved classic. Rather than strive for coherence here, I think I’ll just post my disjointed thoughts as pros and cons.

Pros:
Good casting. I originally thought Cate Blanchett was too young and pretty to be Mrs. Zimmerman, but it worked.
The house! Oh, it was lovely. Lewis grieved for his mother, but I’d have killed my parents to move in there.
There were some genuinely scary things. It didn’t achieve the sense of dread like the book, more relying on jump scares and icky things to look at, but by about the midpoint I was thinking this might be too intense for some kids. Isaac Izard was terrifying. The dolls, “so creepy”.

I liked the living chair.
There were no extra scenes for staying through the credits, but the accompanying artwork was a nod to the original Edward Gorey illustrations. Nice. :slight_smile:
The Muggins Simoon, and the light-reflecting spectacles were appreciated also.

Cons:
The “bad kitty” joke wasn’t funny the first time and did not improve with reiteration. In fact, I can’t recall finding any lines funny. The affectionate name-calling clunked.
Isaac Izard does not need a backstory.
They left out the Hand of Glory stuff from the end of the book (IOW, the best part)!
Uncle Jonathan had a mean edge. The real Uncle Jonathan would never have considered throwing Lewis out for a moment! Likewise, Lewis was a bit of a brat at the beginning, and rude to Rose Rita.
Where have I seen that shape-shifting effect before? Seriously, I’ll be racking my brain over that. Did not like.
Too much pumpkin.

I may come up with further comments, but I guess that will do for a start. Did anyone else see it?

Mrs. Cups and I did and I thought the movie was weirdly serious for a kids movie (a lot of frank discussions about death), but weirdly light for a serious movie (soooo many poop jokes). I should also say neither of us ever read the book (books?).

We’re both too old to be scared of this movie, but I can definitely see this as being baby’s first horror film. There was a moment when the movie was pretty silent and there was a sense of foreboding and I thought to myself, “Man, if I were the target age for this I’d be scared out of my mind.”

I can never unsee the Jack Black baby though. shudder

It’s a bit of a dick move on my part because he’s, what, 14? But the main kid could not do his crying scenes for shit. He was absolutely godawful. The rest of the movie he was fine I guess, but his crying scenes took me right out.

I had no idea this was directed by Eli Roth until the opening “Thanks for watching this in the theater and not pirating it like an asshole” bit. It also had me counting down til his inevitable cameo.

Not a terrible movie, and given we’re A-List members it didn’t “cost” anything to see, but I wouldn’t recommend spending money on it unless you have kids in that age range or are a fan of the book

Yeah, this is being aimed at young kids, but I think young teenagers might like it better. My daughter and I are laughing at the histrionic reviews over at this site. Seriously people, you are shocked to find out this movie has witchcraft in it?
My daughter (age 26) is planning to dress as Mrs. Zimmerman for Halloween.

Do you mean when the neighbor woman shape-shifted into Izard’s wife and did that fast-motion head shake thing? The same effect was used in “Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire” and also in the Doctor Who episode, “The End of Time.” Probably more as well, but those came to mind as soon as I saw that scene.

I was pleasantly surprised by the film! The trailer looked Godawful to me, like one of those Goosebumps movies, but I went last night to just see the remastered IMAX version of “Thriller” (amazing btw! That would have been worth it on it’s own!) and was glad I stayed to watch the actual movie. It was much better than the trailer made it out to be, I thought the humor worked well, as did the rest of my audience, there were lots of chuckles at the insults between Cate Blanchett & Jack Black.

Izard didn’t need a backstory, but I’m actually kinda glad he got one. I don’t usually like characters who are just evil with no explanation or reason, if only because, to them, they aren’t evil.

The bad kitty joke was just egregious, and I’ve also never liked that “shape shifting effect”. What’s the point of all the head shaking? It looked stupid.

I also don’t understand why they reversed the sequence of when Mrs. Zimmerman did and didn’t have her magic (in the book, she had it all along but lost it during the confrontation with Izard after he broke the globe on her umbrella) or why they introduced a daughter. It didn’t significantly change the story, but it was an odd choice.

I was a bit annoyed about the desperate gear jamming and the baby Uncle Jonathon, but that was mostly because they kept Jack Black’s adult head, and how did that even make *sense *in context?

Overall, though, I enjoyed the movie. I don’t think it’ll be a classic like The Wizard of Oz or ET, but I think it did do a good job of keeping true to the book’s spirit. And since I love the book (and its sequels, and pretty much all of Bellairs’ other books which I own, and have any of you read The Face in the Frost?), I was glad that they got so much of the atmosphere right. That little trip through the universe in the garden was special.

Did anyone else notice that the credits had wacky credit? The chair and the gryphon both had staff credits. Chair was listed as the Gryphon tamer, or something like that, and the Gryphon had … something about the chair, although I forget what it was. I laughed.

Yes! I did catch that, I thought it was very funny. I think it was:
Chair’s hair & makeup: Griffin
Griffin tamer: Chair

Thank you! The Harry Potter movie must have been the one.

I haven’t seen the film, and I don’t really remember the transition in HP&tGoF, but if it’s the effect I’m thinking of, the first time I saw it was in Innerspace, when Dennis Quaid made Martin Short’s face morph into Robert Picardo’s. It was kind of off-putting.

I LOVED the book, and it was really the first “scary” book I ever read (except that “Scary Stories” and “More Scary Stories” but those were really about the illustrations).

I thought the casting was masterful, I really did. What I hated though, was that they sucked all the charm out of it - the end of the book is all about Lewis’ Magic Ritual - the card game, player organ, the spell and eventually the 8 Ball - the whole thing was so incredibly fun. Instead they created this BS special effects extravaganza. Also, Izzard did not only not need a back story, but if Eric Kripke could maybe not be in SO IN LOVE with Azazel, then maybe we could have a story without the yellow-eyed prince of Hell.

We enjoyed it - quite a bit, even though we’re ‘well beyond’ what I assume the ‘target’ is … what I found really enjoying was listening to the kids around us - definitely hit the target audience well.