Stars: Owen Vaccaro, Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp, Sunny Suljic, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Lorenza Izzo, Braxton Bjerken, Vanessa Anne Williams.
Director: Eli Roth
Screenplay: Eric Kripke
I would have loved this as a kid. The world is exciting, the characters are mysterious and slightly scary, the story is intriguing, the rules of the world make immediate sense. This is a great kids movie, one that in 10 years the little kid who has watched this will try and piece together this movie from their memory and come away aghast at just how crazy and amazing they remember it being.
And I really liked it now. It comes down to the charisma and adorableness of Owen Vaccaro (playing Lewis Barnavelt) with the perfect pair of parental support from Jack Black (Playing Uncle Jonathan Barnavelt) and Cate Blanchett (Playing neighbour Mrs. Zimmerman). These three really work well together, and you can see the chemistry and fun they had working on this project. Black is back to what he has become to be known, being the teacherly figure for junior high kiddies. And Blanchett is being her perfect infectiously gorgeous self. But my hat goes mostly to Vaccaro as without him the film would have suffered. He has this fearful curiosity that makes this awkward kid just shine, you want to root and follow this little man.
The magic and the house are really fun with the right type of whimsy. Nothing is over or under explained; it just works in kid movie logic, which is my favourite kind. There is also real hurt here from Lewis losing his parents and him trying desperately to make his new ‘friend’ stays friends with him.
Take you kids, take yourself to this movie. It is nostalgic from simply being the type of kids movie that we remember seeing.