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The Haunted Mansion

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Haunted Mansion

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Terence Stamp
Director: Rob Minkoff
Rated: PG
RunTime: 99 Minutes
Release Date: November 2003
Genres: Comedy, Horror, Family

*Also starring: Don Knotts, Jennifer Tilly, Nathaniel Parker, Jeremy Gilbreath, Kelly Stables, Wallace Shawn, Martin Klebba, Jeremy Howard

Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4

Compared with "Pirates of the Caribbean," this Disney amusement park ride-inspired effort is pathetic. It's not as bad as "The Country Bears" (2002) but that's not saying much.

"Welcome Foolish Mortals." Eddie Murphy plays Jim Evers, an ambitious real-estate agent who works with his wife Sara (Marshal Thomason). She fervently wishes he'd spend more time with their children (13 year-old Aree Davis, 10 year-old Marc John Jefferies) and is chagrined when her workaholic husband jumps at the chance to sell a decrepit Louisiana mansion even if it means delaying their eagerly-anticipated family weekend trip. After Jim assures everyone that their detour into the bayou will be "20 minutes tops," they reluctantly arrive at the property and get stuck there overnight when a storm washes out the bridge. Their creepy companions include Ramsley (Terence Stamp), a ghastly butler who's seen too many vintage Vincent Price/Boris Karloff movies, and Master Gracey (Nathaniel Parker), the ghostly, cursed owner who is convinced that Sara is his long-lost love - along with relentlessly fading apparitions like Ezra (Wallace Shawn), Emma (Dina Waters) and wisecracking Madame Leota (Jennifer Tilly).

Written by David Berenbaum and directed by Rob Minkoff, "Mansion" creaks and crumbles with allusions to old movies ("I see dead people." "There's no place like home." "The butler did it."), except for John Myhre's remarkable production design with its sliding doors and hidden panels. When the Evers' family is being pursued by musical instruments, it's a singularly memorable sequence. Otherwise, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Haunted Mansion" is a bleak, boring 4. Neither scary nor funny, it's just a moldering Thanksgiving turkey.

Copyright 2003 Susan Granger

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