Dog’s Movie House: “House” And “Littlefoot” Solid Offerings For The Kids!

Howdy Folks!  It’s The Kendog with looks at “The House With The Clock In It’s Walls” and “Smallfoot!”       

Jack Black, Cate Blanchette, and Owen Vaccaro fight evil in “The House With A Clock In It’s Walls”



Unless you’re the big bad Disney machine, a lot of times an animated film or a film for kids can get lost amongst the Mouse House’s publicity bulldozer.   Only Illumination studios with their “Despicable Me” juggernaut has been able to really compete.  In terms of quality, these two studios (and in the past, Dreamworks) are the top of the charts.  (I’m not counting Aardman animation and any anime into the mix).  So it’s nice to see Warner Brother’s Animation jumping back into the mix with their hilarious Chuck Jones-inspired “Smallfoot.”  Also oddly pleasing is horror auteur Eli Roth getting into the kid-scaring business with “The House with the Clock in it’s Walls.”

Let’s start with “House” as it was last week’s box office winner.  Eli Roth (“Hostel”) directs from a script by Eric Kripke (“Supernatural”) from the best selling novel by John Bellairs.  Owen Vaccaro plays Lewis, a young man who moves in with his eccentric Uncle Jonathan (Jack Black) after the young boy’s parents are killed.  The setting is 1955 and it turns out Uncle Jonathan’s a warlock and the next door neighbor Florence (Cate Blanchette) is a powerful witch.  Oh yeah, the house is alive and for some reason has a huge clock on a countdown ticking somewhere in the bowels of the house.  As Owen is getting trained to use magic, he accidentally unleashes a terrible evil into the world and it’s up to this trio of magically mismatched people to save said world and the people in it.

“House” is a throwback to the eighties when movies like “Monster Squad” and “The Goonies” reigned supreme.  It’s mostly innocent enough, but Roth ratchets up the tension pretty tight for a kid’s film, which means the kiddies will probably love it.  The effects are fine and often used in imaginative ways.  I was especially impressed with the guardian pumpkins in the second half of the film.   Vaccaro is good as the young Owen, and Black and Blanchette have very good chemistry togather.   Kyle MacLachlan adds a bit of depth as the villain, Jonathan’s former partner who’s experience in the war has made him lose faith in all of humanity.   Overall “The House With The Clock In It’s Walls” is entertaining entry level horror for the young ones who like monsters and magic.  3 1/2 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer!

Next we have the animated “Smallfoot.”  Written and directed by Karey Kirkpatrick, this film tells the tale of Migo (Channing Tatum) a yeti who is part of a population of said creatures living high in the Himalayas.  These yetis are smart with their own society and a set of rules literally set in stone.  These stones are worn as a vest by the Stonekeeper (Common) the leader of the yeti tribe.  One day Migo encounters a legendary being known as a “Smallfoot” but his discovery disappears (via parachute) before he can show the tribe proof.  This leads to his banishment and the resulting quest to find proof of the Smallfoot so he can be welcomed back into the tribe.

First of all, this film is freaking funny!  Clearly the filmmakers were inspired by the legendary Chuck Jones and his Road Runner shorts.  The first half of the film, in particular, had me literally holding my sides with laughter at some of the sight gags.  Tatum is great as Migo with just the right amount of curiosity, energy, and heart to make the big yeti someone worth rooting for and laughing at, sometimes at the same time.  Tatum gets help from the likes of Danny DeVito, James Corden, Common, Zendaya, Lebron James, and Gina Rodriguez.  In addition to the effective jokes and sight gags,  “Smallfoot” tells and engaging story about tolerance and the lies we sometimes tell to protect our loved ones.  It’s a delightfully entertaining and well-animated film that should bring joy to kids of all ages.   See this one with your family: you won’t be disappointed.   4 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer!  So Sayeth The Kendog!

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