Alright, Bingers, answer this: when you have Jack Black in a movie, what would you expect? Laughters, right? Here’s another one: when you see Cate Blanchett’s name in the billing, what do you think of? Amazing performance, no doubt. When you have those two actors in a fantasy movie, do you still know what to expect? Well, you will have to find out in our review of The House With A Clock In Its Walls.
United International Pictures invited us to the special screening of the movie in Greenbelt 3. Knowing that it is a family movie, I adjusted my expectation to some pure wholesome humor. I went in ready to embrace the whimsical nature of the movie. And here we go. The lights started to dim, the movie started to play, and the magic begins. Or so I thought.
The Hidden Magic
The film started from the perspective of the 10-yr old boy and recently orphaned Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro). He now has to move to the fictional town of New Zebedee to live with his Uncle Jonathan (Jack Black) and his neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett). At this point of the film, everything is still going smoothly. The gothic-comedic vibes that the film is trying to achieve is still apparent. From the tone to the whole setup, everything is still in the right place. Even the enchanted house where the newly-formed family resides has its charm. From the stained glass decor that changes everyday, to the stool that acts like a pet dog, and up to the topiary griffin with an unpredictable bowel movement, it is obvious that the The House With a Clock in its Walls is finding its footing as a magically whimsical film.
Truth be told the first part of the movie had a heart despite its slow pacing. Unfortunately, the pace remained all the way to the end where things felt stagnant. Majority of the second and third act are sequences with little to no bearing. The titular clock turns out to be the machinations of Isaac Izard, an evil warlock and Jonathan’s former partner. The device in question has the power to alter time and adversely affect humanity. Sounds intense? In paper, yes. But in the actual movie, not quite.
Finding the Magic
“It’s just a kid’s movie. Relax!” Yeah, I can hear some of you saying it by now. Why am I being this critical about a kid’s movie? Well, I really am not. And saying such a thing about the genre is no use since there are some from the genre that did really well! Going back, it is ironic how a supposedly magical movie is devoid of fun, humor, and, well, magic.
Jack Black is the most Jack Black in The House with a Clock In Its Walls while Cate Blanchett felt like a misplaced casting. I love her with all my heart but her character Mrs. Zimmerman was forgettable.
The House with a Clock In Its Walls tragically falls as ‘just another kid’s movie with a dash of magic’. It tries to be Harry Potter meets A Series of Unfortunate Events but horribly fails in its attempt. For Eli Roth’s first directorial take on a kid’s movie, he should have just stayed in doing what he does best: creating horror movies. The movie started with a quest to find magic and ended with its magic left undiscovered, not found.
Director: Eli Roth
Cast: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett
Binge-level: 2.5 out of 5 stars.