on November 27, 2003
I'm a huge fan of Disneyland, and the Haunted Mansion is one of my favorite attractions, so I force myself not to get my hopes up too high when they say they are going to make a movie out of one of them, lest I be too disappointed by the result. And it's a good thing. I was pleasantly surprised when they came out with the very entertaining "Pirates of the Caribbean" this summer, but "the Haunted Mansion" doesn't quite deliver on its promise so successfully, as hard as it tries.
And it does try hard. From the typically sumptuous sets that a Disney movie can afford, to the great comedic talent of Eddie Murphy, this movie could have had the right mix of atmosphere and comedy to be both a satisfying homage to a beloved themepark ride, as well as a fun piece of entertainment. But this House falls down in the storytelling area, from where it can't quite get back up.
The story did have potential, it really did. It included enough "explanations" of various parts of the ride, that it could satisfy any annual passport holder to Disneyland, like the Hitchhiking Ghosts, the guy hanging from the ceiling, or the wedding dress in the attic. But the moths in that dusty attic must have been running amuck, because there are too many holes in the fabric of the story. Whenever there was a chance for a character to explain or develop part of the story, they seemed instead to take the time to harp about a vague evil curse in the house, the origin of which we can only speculate about. Okay, the house is cursed, but why? Okay, one servant is evil, but why? Okay, there are lots of spirits hanging around in the backyard cemetary, but is it too much to ask, why? It's left up to you to guess, but then, they don't give you a satisfying answer.
This movie is probably worth viewing just to pick out the references to the ride, and to see a funny Eddie Murphy picking his way through them. It's not too bad for kids, except for one scene that belongs in the Thriller video, that could be frightening to the young ones. Just be sure to "look alive", and beware of the plot holes, which, like Hitchhiking Ghosts, will haunt you all the way home.
Eddie Murphy stars as Jim Evers, one half of Evers and Evers Real Estate. At Evers and Evers, they want to keep you happy for evers and evers. But Jim's addiction to his work is starting to affect his relationships at home. Even his wife and business partner, Sara Evers, is losing patience with him. When a couple of new customers cause Jim to miss an anniversary date with his wife, that's the last straw. He has to promise a full, family weekend at the lake to make up for it. So Jim, Sara, and their preteen kids, Megan and Michael, are all set for a fun little vacation when the phone rings at the last minute.
It's just a quick little stop off at the Gracey Manor in New Orleans, what's the worst that could happen? The owners want to sell. Too many...bad memories. But in no time, the family finds they must stay the night as a sudden rainstorm has flooded the road. The wife and kids aren't thrilled, the creepy butler Ramsley and the suspicious staff were enough to put them off, but Jim is overwhelmed at the idea of selling the huge place. And Mr. Gracey is thrilled to have them, especially Sara, who reminds him so much of someone he loved long ago. It doesn't take long before we realize that a plot is underfoot. It also doesn't take long before we discover that the inhabitants of Gracey Manor aren't what they seem to be. In no time, the movie gets kicked into high gear, as the Evers family members find themselves on a quest to save their beloved Sara from a houseful of restless spirits!
"The Haunted Mansion" is far better than most people might lead you to believe. Had it come out after Disney's "The Country Bears," it might have been hailed as a fantastic achievement (unless people just avoided it), but on the heels of "Pirates of the Caribbean," well, how can a cute little family comedy compete with one of the greatest action/adventure films ever made? Still, when judged on its own merit, Haunted Mansion is a fine film, well worth purchasing and repeat viewing. With the fantastic skills of effects master Rick Baker and the comedic talent of Eddie Murphy, along with another of Disney's best rides as a basis and several nods to it throughout, the fact that the film could probably have been better isn't enough to detract from the fact that it IS quite good. I mean, most movies could be "better." If you judge everything like that, you probably only actually like about 4 or 5 movies. Now, I'm not saying this movie doesn't have some obvious flaws. Marsha Thomason may be beautiful, but her acting is pretty bad. Perhaps she was focusing too much on hiding her accent. And sure, the film could have been funnier, and it could have had more scary moments, though that Zombie sequence was pretty darn good. Overall, "The Haunted Mansion" is a highly satisfying night of entertainment. If you're a fan of the ride, it should be all the more fun, and the rewatchability level is pretty high on this one. Definitely not the total disappointment it was made out to be. I purchased this one not sure what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised. The extras on the disc are pretty good too, though I would have loved to have seen more, including some of the old Disney TV programs about the ride. I'm surprised the cartoon "Lonesome Ghosts" wasn't included on this one, since it seems to be on every spooky Disney release. The behind the scenes stuff was pretty neat though. At any rate, I'm happy to give this film a thumbs up! Loved the singing busts and hitchhiking ghosts, and Madame Leota was pretty cool too! Props to Jennifer Tilly for pulling off a role that I had originally wanted Phyllis Diller to play. The only thing missing was Don Knotts as the Groundskeeper!
While not in league with Pirates of the Carribean (POTC), this movie was still entertaining in its own right.
Scary? Well, not really. They are a big fan of having things jump out and try to get you jumping yourself... but all these parts were rather predictable. But, my son enjoyed the thrill factor of this movie. I've always shied from him watching scary movies, but I felt okay about bringing him to this one.
Funny? Well, Eddie Murphy is always funny. He is just a funny guy and a fun guy to watch on the screen. He did seem to be coasting through most of this movie, but he becomes to this movie what Johnny Depp was to POTC.
Story line? Pretty simple, but this is more a movie for kids so simple was in what was called or. My son really enjoyed it. But how they beat the bad guy... just not too dramatic or outstanding of an ending to this movie.
Special Effects? Fantastic!! Flawless! The ghosts were well done as well as the magic crystal ball.
Recommended? For the very little ones that are weak of heart... I wouldn't recommend. For the older young ones who can stomach a ghost story, oh yes!!! For adults... maybe consider it for a rental unless you are taking your kids.
Jim Evers is committed to his real estate business, almost to the exclusion of his wife, also his partner in business, and kids. When they are offered an exclusive listing on a stately manor outside of town, it's too much for him to resist, and he insists on stopping on the way to a weekend trip. While they are eating dinner (they didn't seem to have much of a choice), a fierce storm comes up they are trapped for the night. The old place is creepy, however. As the characters get separated, they start to find strange things going on. Slowly, Jim and his kids begin to realize they must solve a mystery if any of them are going to get out alive.
Unfortunately for this movie, it came out so soon after PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN that the comparisons would be inevitable. It had huge shoes to fill, and comes up short. It is a fun movie in its own right, however, and deserves a look. The plot turns into a decent mystery that had me confused for most of the time. It does feature family movie cliches (workaholic dad, kid with a certain fear they'll have to over come), but builds in enough other plot elements these are kept to a minimum. Fans of the ride at Disneyland will find lots of fun nods to the inspiration to keep them entertained. There are funny moments throughout the movie. Probably my favorite gag was with the singing busts. I may have been the only person in the theater to get it, but any fan of barbershop quartets will appreciate it.
I've never been a fan of Eddie Murphy, and I did find his over the top acting to be annoying. But the other actors stepped up to the plate and kept me intrigued in spite of the lead. I especially enjoyed seeing Wallace Shawn in a hilarious turn as one of the mansion's servants trying to help Jim and the kids solve the mystery.
Don't be deceived, this movie will scare young kids. It is half comedy and half jump fest that works remarkably well. It's a tad creepier then the ride, so don't just use that as a guide. It would probably be best to watch it first and determine how your kids will react.
Disney has done this DVD right with a nice widescreen transfer and surround sound. In addition, they've got some great behind the scenes features and my favorites - outtakes and deleted scenes.
Those looking for a light scary movie will enjoy this. Just make sure your kids won't get nightmares first. A good film to make a family Halloween tradition.
on May 24, 2013
I am very happy that I purchased this DVD on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney theme parks. You can finally see the actual animatronic figures from the ride, including the Hatbox Ghost, the Hitchhiking Ghosts, Madame Leota, and most of all, the hanging corpse of Master Gracey. You can never see his figure when you are standing in the portrait room, even though the flashing lightning attempts to illuminate it, but you can finally see an actual photo of it here. And you even learn that one of the portraits in the portrait gallery is of this same corpse of Master Gracey. This DVD was very informative about the makings and beginnings of the ride and shares secrets that I wasn't aware of. And it lets you go on the complete ride through the mansion as well. It's great to have a DVD devoted entirely to the Haunted Mansion, because most DVD's of the Disney parks seem to skip over this attraction. I'm very pleased with it and will watch it often.
on June 4, 2004
Come on, people! What, is Eddie Murphy suddenly cinematic poison to you all? Is he not still the funny, charming comedic actor that *all* of you have laughed to in the past?? Is it suddenly uncool to like him...or to like a film based on a Disney ride??? (Can you say PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN, perhaps??) Am I missing something, because I just don't get your reactions on here at all!
Listen, it's true that Eddie Murphy has made some duds recently in his career, such as THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH and I SPY (both 2002)---unseen by me as of this writing, by the way---but he's also still making hits (and great films), too: witness SHREK (2001) and the still brand-new SHREK 2, and it is really questionable as to whether Mr. Murphy's star has really gone out. I mean, he also made BEST DEFENSE in 1983, and then went on to the mega-hit BEVERLY HILLS COP the very next year. Besides, some of our greatest and most respected actors such as Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino have starred in bad movies---THE FAN (1996), ISHTAR (1987) and CRUISING (1981), respectively, so it's pretty unfair to act as if Murphy's the only one who's made some crappy choices. And it really doesn't matter what other films Eddie has done, anyway. We are discussing THE HAUNTED MANSION (2003) on these pages, so let's just take the film by itself as it is.
This is an extremely well-made film that is a feast for the senses. Everything---Art Direction, Set Design, Costumes, Makeup, Visual Effects, Sound Effects Editing included---was made painstakingly with great attention to detail. I'm baffled by one obviously ill-informed reviewer who commented on 'the cheap CGI effects'---what??? Just by watching the movie, I could tell that *nothing* about it was made on the cheap. And if that hadn't convinced me by itself, then the two documentaries ("The Making Of The Mansion" and "Anatomy Of A Scene - Ghost In The Graveyard") would have done the trick. As it is, these docs really made me appreciate even more all the great work that makeup artist extraordinaire Rick Baker (truly a legend in his craft), costumer Mona May and all the rest did. And if that weren't enough, the DVD gives us a superb interactive tour of the Gracie Mansion! I have just seen the DVD after getting it from Netflix. After watching it, I know that I want to buy it!
Eddie Murphy and British actress Marsha Thomason star as Jim & Sara Evers, of Evers & Evers Real Estate. In the opening scene, Jim is showing a couple a house (no, not the haunted one) of which they're not quite sure they want to buy. We're treated to another fine example of Murphy's comedic timing in this scene, where his wife calls about spending their anniversary night together and he's making it seem to the prospective couple as if he's speaking with another interested couple. In true pop psychology form, the couple in the room immediately make their move to purchase the house. Of course, this setup is just to establish the characters of Jim & Sara, and soon they're off to the Gracie Mansion (no, not the NYC Mayor's house) to which they've been invited (well actually, just Sara) by a spooky-sounding man who presents himself as the representative of the interested seller. Of course, the spooky man turns out to be the butler Ramsey (played to great spooky effect by the wonderful Terence Stamp). They also meet Master Gracie (Nathaniel Parker) whom, we learn, fell in love with a black girl named Elizabeth in the 19th century who committed sucicide (or so he thought) when they realized they could never marry due to the obvious societal pressures of their day. It's an effective back story that speaks to the issues of race, intolerance and true love. But the real treat is the house and its ghostly inhabitants.
Sure, this isn't a *great* film; however, there really wasn't anything I didn't like. Everybody was well-cast. I liked the Evers' children, Megan and Michael, played respectively by Aree Davis (if she looks familiar to you, that's because she's the sister of Dee Dee Davis, who stars on "The Bernie Mac Show" and Marc John Jefferies (yep, the People PC spokesman!). Both are smart and engaging. I also liked Wallace Shawn and Dina Waters as the helpful ghostly couple Ezra & Emma. Jennifer Tilly is great as Madame Leota, a ghostly disembodied head in a crystal ball! All in all, THE HAUNTED MANSION is a great way to take your mind off things and just have fun for 88 minutes. That's all it aims to be, and it delivers well.
RECOMMENDED; AGES 6 & UP
on April 21, 2004
The Haunted Mansion film is not as bad as some will lead you to believe. Actually The Haunted Mansion is a throwback to movies
like William Castle's original 13 Ghosts (1960) and Don Knotts'
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1965). The ghosts play it straight and dead serious and leaves the comedy to Eddie Murphy and family. There are also many scenes that reference Disney's theme
park ride. Such as the singing busts, the ballroom waltz complete with a ghostly organist, and the hitch hiking ghosts even get their cameos. The story is very simple. A nice family
is trapped overnight in The Haunted Mansion, trying to find a
way out. There is also a subplot that deals with reincarnation,
and a 122 year old murder mystery. A really fun movie. My favorite scene: The Gothic Mausoleum. Rick Baker has produced
the best rotting, skeletal walking corpses I have ever seen.
Seemingly straight out of a 1950s EC horror comic.
So if retro horror comedy is to your liking you will love
The Haunted Mansion movie.
on April 26, 2004
I absolutely loved this movie and I can't see why you people are ripping on it so much. True the wrting wasn't as it could have been but I still absolutely loved the movie. I actually went and saw it three times while it was in the theatres with my friends. I also don't think this movie was meant to be scary at all maybe for little kids but not for adults I still liked and thought it was good. So I do very much recommend this movie to anyone who likes a little scary and a little comedy movie. Good plot and good movie for the kids to see also.
on May 1, 2004
The Haunted Mansion is a beautifully simple story about love, deceit, betrayal, and family, with a few ghosts added in for good measure. i especially love the subtlety in which the storyline addresses interracial relationships; bravo to Disney for taking on a storyline with a powerful message of universal love.
similar to viewing Pirates of the Caribbean, those who have made a tradition of riding The Haunted Mansion will be tickled to death ;-) at the little touches that was done to bring various parts of the ride to life. i found myself singing in the movie theatre to "grim grimmy ghosts about to socialize!" moreso, the movie has served as a powerful advertisement to visit a Disney theme park in the near future, as i hope to do this summer. i found myself anxiously waiting for the DVD, and, sure enough, i purchased my widescreen edition within the first week of distribution.
the extras on the DVD were also very informative and enlightening. i just ate everything up.
don't be surprised, however, if you actually get a little spooked while watching this movie. while its definitely no slasher horror film (thank goodness), it does have it's creepy moments. like it's themepark counterpart, there are parts of this visual ride that are both jovial and fun and parts that do bring a chill up your spine.
enjoy this ride!
on December 5, 2003
The critics almost kept us away from this one. I am so glad they didn't succeed. We loved this movie. This is a movie that entertains and makes you giggle... and sometimes makes you jump. It holds true to Disney's Haunted Mansion theme and gives you a story behind that spooky castle ride. While it is not as spectacular as "The Pirates of the Carribean", it entertains and amuses and was suitable for our whole family. I would not recommend it for children under 6 years of age, unless they absolutely like to be spooked...there were a few scary spots for little ones.
Thank you Eddie Murphy!