It's beginning to look like Robert Zemeckis wants to make a motion-capture cartoon for every season, though his timing seems a little off. First, he directed The Polar Express, which came out in early November two years ago and, despite an initially lukewarm reception, picked up steam at the box office as Christmas itself came into view. Now, he is one of several producers (Steven Spielberg is another) behind Monster House, which takes place before and during Halloween—but the film is coming out in mid-July, more than three months before the "holiday" in question. There are precedents for releasing a film out of season, as it were (the first two Die Hard movies take place on Christmas Eve but came out in July), but this is still a little odd. What's next, a tribute to the Fourth of July on Groundhog Day?
Timing of another sort turns out to be a key issue for the main characters in Monster House, too. That is, the story concerns two boys who are in the early stages of puberty—voices cracking, and so on—and they wonder if they have already become too old to trick-or-treat. Will this be the first year that they are obliged to skip out on all the free candy, or is there still time for one last hurrah?
But first, they have to figure out what to do about that old, dilapidated house across the street. An old man named Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi) lives there, and he terrorizes every child who steps on his lawn, chasing them away and hoarding their kites and tricycles. But when DJ (Mitchel Musso) and his chubby friend Chowder (Sam Lerner) try to retrieve a stray basketball from Nebbercracker's lawn, the old man gets so worked up about it that he falls to the ground, apparently dead—an incident that we see ...1
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