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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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“The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is a fun, casual kids’ movie

Jack+Black+stars+in+The+House+With+A+Clock+In+Its+Walls.
Photo by Creative Commons

Jack Black stars in The House With A Clock In Its Walls.

“The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is a kids’ movie before anything else. The story, the style and the tropes are all geared toward children, but that doesn’t mean older audiences can’t enjoy it as well. If you’re looking for a simple, fun, self-contained story that you don’t have to think too hard about, then this movie could be for you.
The film starts off with a sense of mystery and danger, revealing to the audience bit-by-bit the magical nature of the house and its inhabitants. Shown through the eyes of newly-orphaned Lewis, played by 12-year-old Owen Vaccaro, the film gradually transforms into a frantic battle to save the world from an inexplicably evil former friend of his Uncle Jonathan, who’s played by Jack Black.
Through a heavy reliance on magic, the film gets away with not really having to explain much of anything. Viewers must quickly learn to go with the flow of the film, and not to worry about the finer details. It’s a movie that’s much more fun if you don’t take it seriously.
Besides the magical elements, the story really is quite predictable and formulaic. Don’t go into this movie expecting to be surprised. It’s a typical “young hero saves the day” story, and I don’t consider it to be a spoiler when I tell you that all the good guys see a happy ending. The fun of the movie isn’t so much what will happen, but how it happens.
Set in the 50s in a whimsical world of serial crime shows and lamplit hallways, the film does actually have some stylistic merit. I enjoyed watching Lewis traipse through the ornate halls of his uncle’s mansion wearing bowties and aviator goggles. Something about the setting made it feel simultaneously cozy and filled with mystery. The film does, however, make frequent use of computer-generated imagery to create some of its magical creatures, and I felt that these painfully obvious creations contrasted with the otherwise well-crafted scenery.
The acting was about what you’d expect from a children’s movie. Cate Blanchett delivered the best performance as Uncle Jonathan’s magical friend and neighbor, and Black himself did a decent job with the material he was given. The directorial focus, however, seemed to remain on humor throughout the film. While there were one or two legitimately emotional moments, most of the actors’ talents went toward eliciting laughs from the audience.
“The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is a fun, predictable kids’ movie. If you have money to spare, and you want to go see a movie you don’t have to think about or won’t get you too emotionally invested, then this film might be a good choice for you. There really isn’t anything particularly special about the film, and I had just as much fun watching it as I would have had I stayed home. The choice is yours.
Keagan Miller is a psychology junior and life and arts reporter for The Battalion.

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