Monster House

Rated 3.0

A kid learns that the mean neighbor across the street (voice by Steve Buscemi) isn’t his only problem; when the old man goes to the hospital, his empty house comes to life, devouring passersby and trying to kill our hero and his pals. Director Gil Kenan’s CGI feature (from a script by Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab and Pamela Pettler) aspires to be the best Tim Burton movie Tim Burton never made—Douglas Pipes’ music even sounds like Danny Elfman’s—and it does have its moments of both scares and laughs. But the story is gruesome and coarse—more suitable for adolescents and adults than for children—and, more importantly, it’s sluggish and feels padded out to fill its 91 minutes. The animation is sleek and striking, but the characters’ faces are too immobile to be expressive, and the effect is disconcerting.