Haunted Mansion Film Review Guest starring Moviefan12!!!

Theme Song by Brian Setzer and owned by Walt Disney Records

Theme Song by Kevin Quinn and Randy Peterson

 

Disney Otoko: Welcome again Foolish Mortals to another installment of Haunted Mansion Month! I know I usually review movies I like. I do this for many reasons. One is so that I can highlight artistic achievements and failings of a work of art while introducing observations that may not have been brought up before. I also do it because I feel that artists should get praise and feedback from fans for their achievements and condemned for their failings. Today,though, we’re going to take a look at a TERRIBLE Disney movie! A movie so terrible that it can be called the “Batman and Robin” of Disney movies. A movie so unbearably bad that if I review it alone I might hang myself just like the Ghost Host. That is why I asked my fellow Disney fan and reviewer Moviefan12 to assist me in reviewing this film that never should have materialized under any circumstances. This is the awful Haunted Mansion movie!! Buddha and Paul Frees help us all!!!

STORY

Moviefan12: First of all, thanks for having me. Calling this the “Batman and Robin” of Disney seems a little rough though. I would have saved that for The Country Bears or Home on the Range. Did I enjoy this film? Yes, somewhat, but it wasn’t good. Now as for the story, it is cliche and tired. It’s your typical stock story of a family that doesn’t spend enough time together, but going through something big will bring them closer together. Such as is the case with the Evers family. Here we have Eddie Murphy who I swear was stuck in his Donkey from Shrek schtick  playing an overworked husband and father who alongside his wife, Sara are real estate agents. Get it? This movie is about the Haunted Mansion and they sell houses. Excuse me, but I think I need to pull out this old joke that hasn’t seen the light of day for a while. I wish I could say the same about this film.

 

Really, they were just asking for the Disney facepalm! So the gist of the story is that Jim wants to take his family on a trip for bonding purposes But uh oh, work gets in the way when he gets a phone call about a great old Mansion up for sale. What should he do? Is it A. Just ignore the offer and go on the trip, or B. Combine the trip and scouting of the house ? If you answered A, congratulations you have common sense. But alas he went with B. Another cliche. Seriously this plot is like something you would see on a really bad cheesy sitcom. Unlike that though, this darn thing wasn’t 30 minutes (20 without commercials) Oh I know I didn’t even touch on the son and daughter, but they will brought up later. Let’s just say that they are forgettable.

 

CHARACTERS

Disney Otoko: Disney has prided itself on well written, well acted and diverse characters. Whether the characters are simple and charming like Donald and Goofy to really complex such as the cursed soul of the Beast from B&B to the tragic hero of Terra from Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. Unfortunately, the Haunted Mansion film is less concerned with this than the other features and media. The 999 ghosts while 1 dimensional were flexible enough for interpretation so that they could become more developed characters, but screenwriter David Berenbaum decided that it would be more interesting if the focus of the film was on living characters that really have nothing to do with the Mansion. “WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I think 999 ghosts is enough to make a pretty interesting movie. But what do people like me and Moviefan12 know? I mean, all we do is actually care about the source material!

 

JIM EVERS:  Played by Eddie Murphy:

Now contrary to popular belief I believe that Eddie Murphy is the best acted living character in the film. He’s still written horribly, but Murphy is genuinely trying and failing to make this film enjoyable. The same thing can not be said about the actors playing his family.

 

SARA EVERS: Played by Marsha Thomason:

 

I’m sure she’s a nice woman and everything, but she is BORING!! There are no inflections in her voice whatsoever! There aren’t any really noticeable facial expressions either! It makes me wonder whether these people actually cared about the project. She fails to emotionally connect to the audience in every single way!! Believe it or not she is not the worst actor in this movie. That is reserved for the Evers children!

 

MEGAN AND MICHEAL EVERS: played by Aree Davis and Marc John Jefferies:

 

Oh Wow! I have never seen acting this bad (Maybe Tommy Wiseau was worse, but that goes without saying). These kids are terrible! When they see the ghost orb of Elizabeth (no not Elizabeth Swan) they have no shock, disbelief, fright or any emotion one would have if they were witnessing a paranormal event! They get the “I don’t care about the film” aspect from their onscreen mom. No real inflections in their voices and of course horribly written dialogue. Micheal is even more lame because he can’t kill one stupid spider. I don’t like spiders either, but that’s all the more reason to kill it, which I do. Geez kid, grow a pair why don’t you! The living characters are terrible! The dead characters are actually better. They’re still written horribly, but the acting is much improved!

 

EMMA AND EZRA: played by Dina Waters and Wallace Shawn:

Things are starting to pick up in terms of acting These two are acted very well. They have chemistry and capture the bumbling servant archetype well. their dialogue like all the others sucks, but the performance helps us cope with that. These characters actually have potential, but alas more Evers family! Ugh!

 

I’m skipping Leota because she absolutely sucks and I’ll talk about her “plot” significance later when I talk about Master Gracey!

 

RAMSLEY: played by Terrence Stamp:

 

Again the performance is actually good, but again the writing is bad. His dialogue is actually okay, but there are so many logistical problems here. Ramsley has all these evil powers such as calling all those evil spirits in the end and locking up the house to prevent Murphy from getting inside. HOW THE HELL CAN HE DO ALL THIS???????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What makes him so special? How can he have these powers while everyone else including master Gracey doesn’t have them? That’s the biggest problem. The film never explains how it’s world works. The rules of what a ghost can and can’t do are never addressed nor are there any implications that can be made as to what they can do. It’s so bad we never get the full scoop on what the curse is. Basic expository questions such as Who cast it? and Why was it cast? None of these things are explained. Even the information we are given is vague at best and is never elaborated on! How can we emotionally connect with these dead people if we don’t know what’s troubling them. (Beauty and the Beast answered these questions and was a beautiful film. It knew how to handle this) Oh well, at least we’ve still got Eddie Murphy and his “hilarious” antics, right?

 

MASTER GRACEY: Played by Nathaniel Parker:

 

A character in this movie that’s actually written decently? A character that actually has a really good performance that genuinely emotionally connects to the audience despite the complete stupidity and laziness? YES!!!! Master Gracey is really the only character that is good. Parker took a terrible film and actually put effort into the performance All the dignity that should have been placed inside the Haunted Mansion film is inside this character and he does his absolute best and succeeds in playing the role of Master Gracey and Parker should be commended for it. Unfortunately this great performance can not save this film from being terrible. It’s a shame because he was really good. He captured the mystery, elegance and pain of the character beautifully!! Every time the film cut back to Eddie Murphy I literally groaned in disappointment. Whay couldn’t this movie have been about Master Gracey? I mean, he’s the one who built the house!!!!! Another thing, why did Eddie Murphy and family need to be in this movie? If the way to break the curse is to find the truth then why didn’t Master Gracey after all these years consult Madame Leota?!!! He’s a smart guy he can figure out Leota’s riddles no problem. Gracey could have easily found the trunk without Murphy’s help! I thought the reason why the seance room was put in the house was because the owner was superstitious and wanted to seek counsel from Leota!! So why didn’t he?????!!!!! Another plot and character fail!!!!!!! A great character and performance with so much potential given the shaft because of Eddie Murphy and other people that can’t act is deeply disturbing and a disgusting betrayal to the Imagineers and the source material they created!

 

MUSIC

Moviefan12: Now I’ll be talking about music and the poor mistreatment of this classic attraction song. While I can’t recall if Yo Ho was barely used in the Pirates films, this film teases the audience with snippets of Grin Grinning Ghosts before having the busts go into a medley of other songs. However, while the song wasn’t used in the film, the band Barenaked Ladies did record a cover of this classic attraction song for the film’s soundtrack. That is the version of the song I’ll be focusing on and not the little bit that was used in the film. Now I would like to address a rumor that’s been floating around for ages since the film came out dealing with the singing busts. People have said and even Disney officials after the movie came out have stated that the fifth bust you see is supposed to be Walt, but according to the filmmakers as that is supposed to be Thurl Ravenscroft. The reason for this is that he was the lead vocalist for Grim Grinning Ghosts not just Mansion, but Phantom Manor as well. I suppose that is a nice little tidbit and nice tribut to the ride in this otherwise lackluster film. Now if you still don’t know who he is he sang “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” and he was also the original voice of Tony the Tiger. Which unlike this film those were Grrrreat!

 

“Grim Grinning Ghosts” Barenaked Ladies Version

 

Here again, i actually like this piece. It sets the mood and mystery up quite well. The sounds used are just wonderful in this piece. It’s like a rollercoaster for the ears. Pieces happy, pieces sad. Moments gloomy, moments joyous. Now I do have one minor nitpick and that is in some areas it sounds more like a Christmas piece than something that should be attached to a film about the Haunted Mansion. It doesn’t happen often, but that does take me out of the song somewhat, but other than that it’s a decent piece. This and the cover of Grin Grinning Ghosts just go to show that good music can come from a bad film.

 

ARTISTIC PRESENTATION

Disney Otoko: While the story and characters are disappointing the art direction and set design are truly the highlights of the film. The Mansions design is a combination of all incarnations of the attraction. My only problem with it is that there’s no Stretching Room!! That is the iconic room where we are not on a ride vehicle and we are with our fellow guests and the big reveal of our host in the flesh (literally or what’s left of him) That effect still gets a genuine scream out of people. You’d think such an important room would have found its way into Gracey Manor. Now I have more negative things to say. The various homages to the ride are included. Normally I would say that’s good, but every single attraction is NOT given the respect and dignity it deserves. It feels as if it they were put in as an afterthought. Like the filmmakers were so wrapped up in their “funny and enchanting” Eddie Murphy movie that they forgot it was based on an attraction and those elements were thrown in during the last 10 seconds of preproduction. While the set is nice, the attraction elements like the 999 grim grinning ghosts were given the shaft for the “funny” Eddie Murphy movie that was made.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Moviefan12: This isn’t a perfect film. Not even a good film, but taking a look at all the attraction based films that I have seen which include Tower of Terror, all 4 Pirates films, and the Country Bears. I’d put this above country bears but below Tower of Terror in terms of quality. Which is sad considering Tower of Terror is a TV movie, but what Tower of Terror did right was that it had an engaging story and the majority of the characters were likable. Sadly, the same can’t be said about this film. Again, I honestly can’t call this the worst attraction based film or even the worst Disney film. With the interior design of the Mansion, I actually feel that the people behind this film wanted to make a faithful Mansion film but something happened along the way. Now as some of you have heard, Guillermo Del Toro is working on a reboot of this film and from the little I have seen of his films, I have high hopes along with him stating that the film will focus on the ghosts. Not to mention the fact that he is a fan of the Mansion. Although the people behind this film claimed that they were fans of the Mansion but we all know how this turned out. Only time will tell how this future film will turn out.

 

Disney Otoko: I can definitely see why you give this movie slack Moviefan12 and I respect that. However, I believe that overall this movie completely sucks despite the positive points that Moviefan12 and I presented. The reason for this is because there is NO EXCUSE for why this film turned out the way it did. There was plenty of source and story material available. Plus they could have just used Phantom Manor where the basic structure is already set up and all the writers have to do is fill in the blanks on certain points. Yes, I know Phantom manor is dark, tragic and uncompromising in its ending, but it has artistic integrity (Also don’t pull the “It’s Disney. It’s supposed to be light and happy” card because Disney has gone dark plenty of times and originally would never stoop to such demeaning storytelling lows to preserve the “family friendly” title). To add insult to injury the film was made by legends of the Disney Animation Renaissance Don Hahn (producer) and Rob Minkoff (director). This is the worst for me personally. These two men are artists that I respect and admire. These guys worked on B&B and The Lion King!! I thought that even at their worst that their films would be just the mundane kind of bad, not horrendous films like this one. So much potential from a classic attraction that could have really been something special completely wasted on crappy storytelling, horrible writing, and halfassed homages to an attraction just to get a cheap laugh and scare. The film fails at achieving even those two simple things. All this negativity is great venting, but it’s also very discouraging. That’s why next time I’m getting in the Halloween and Christmas mood when my good friend Jack Skellington: The Pumpkin King of Halloweentown makes his mark as the Mansion’s greatest and most popular visitor in my review of The Haunted mansion Holiday!! There’s no verdict this time because I think our review speaks for itself.

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