HAUNTED MANSION, THEPG
Busy real estate agent Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy) learns to value his family when they are all nearly destroyed by ghosts in a haunted house he wants to sell. Got that? Not too much for you? If the sight of Murphy, eyes bugging out, mouth contorted and fleeing hysterically from tired digitalized ghouls is your idea of entertainment, then your tastes fit in neatly with the Disney masterminds behind The Haunted Mansion.
I guess we shouldn't have exactly expected a masterpiece, seeing as how this is based not on a book, not on a play, but on a ride. David Berenbaum's script tries for a Gothic romance theme, with the ghostly lord of the manor (Nathaniel Parker) yearning for his dead beloved (Marsha Thomason), who bears a startling resemblance to Evers' wife. But any real, resonating passion is truly beyond the talents of everyone involved. This one just makes you wonder: Does all of Hollywood operate out of one computer room? The swirling, whooshing effects in this are much like those in The Matrix Revolutions, not to mention any other studio film made in the last five years. It makes one yearn for the days when real creativity ruled and the tornado in The Wizard of Oz could be done with a nylon stocking and canny miniatures. The production overall looks second-hand (like Terence Stamp's bad John Gielgud impersonation, as a sinister butler).
The one you really feel for here is Jennifer Tilly, who doesn't even get to show off her bodacious physical assets, as she is playing a squawking, disembodied head in a crystal ball. With her lisping, inimitable delivery, she's the only amusing thing in the movie, but she should definitely fire her agents. --David Noh