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Monster House

Until this animated horrorfest turns shrill, debuting director Gil Kenan delivers enough visual goods to justify the faith of producers Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, who hired him right out of UCLA. The house itself, which sucks up toys, kids and anything else that gets in its way, is a wonder. It’s the heart of darkness in a squeaky-clean suburb where twelve-year-old DJ (Mitchel Musso) and his fat bud Chowder (Sam Lerner) team with teen hottie Jenny (Spencer Locke) to defeat the house and its cadaverous owner (Steve Buscemi). The voice work is exceptional, with a special nod to Maggie Gyllenhaal as a toxic-tongued baby sitter and Jason Lee as her raunchy-to-the-point-of-depraved boyfriend. Kenan is a talent to watch, even in a flick that doesn’t know when to quit.

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