The North Star

“The House with the Clock in its Walls” wastes viewers’ time

Emma Hansen, Online Editor

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Based on John Bellairs’s 1973 book with the same name, “The House with a Clock in its Walls” tells the tale of a dictionary loving ten-year-old named Lewis who goes to live with his eccentric uncle, played by Jack Black, after the tragic death of his parents.  

Lewis arrives at his Uncle Jonathan’s house and is reasonably taken aback when he sees the hundreds of clocks all over the house. This isn’t the only odd thing about the house, from animated stained glass pictures to furniture straight out of a scene from “Beauty and the Beast,” this place has a lot going on.  

After doing some heavy duty sneaking around, Lewis discovers that his uncle is a warlock, or what he calls “a boy witch.” The same thing goes for his friendly purple-loving neighbor, Mrs. Zimmerman, played by Cate Blanchett. These two team up to teach Lewis the rules of wizardry, while also searching for the mysterious clock that is hidden somewhere in the walls. 

The clock was planted by Jonathan’s former friend turned foe, Isaac Izard. Izard died while creating the dark spell and left behind his mansion filled with magic.  

The movie started out strong, luring viewers in with promises of magic and comedy from the one and only Jack Black. It stayed strong until about halfway through when it just lost all momentum and that didn’t change throughout the rest of the movie. 

The witty dynamic between Black and Blanchet could only take the film so far and with a basic “Goosebumps”-like plot, it needed even more than they could give. That being said, their on-screen relationship was one of my favorite parts of the movie. Their quick exchanges of insults kept the movie alive when it started to sink. 

It was a great movie for kids and people with short attention spans because it relies very heavily on its very average CGI work and predictable slapstick comedy. I understand that I am not the films target audience, but the young viewers deserved more than a half-baked “Harry Potter” parody.  

To be fair, this was horror director Eli Roth’s first venture into a more family-friendly brand of scary, and he did manage to make it into an appropriately scary movie for younger viewers. The kind of softened horror it brings to the table is very reminiscent of movies like “Monster House” and “Coraline.” 

For a PG kids movie, “The House with a Clock in its Walls” sure had a lot of non-PG elements. It started off exactly as advertised – a sort of spooky and fun movie about family and magic. Then it took a turn, suddenly they’re talking about necromancy (bringing people back from the dead) and blood sacrifices and it felt like I had stepped into an episode of “Supernatural.” It may be a little too scary to be PG, but it’s not nearly interesting enough to be PG-13.  

For me, the saving grace of this movie was the fact that I got the early bird price for it and didn’t have to pay 10 dollars to see it. It wasn’t the worst movie but if you’re looking for a good PG scary movie to watch this Halloween, just check Cartoon Network, because at least it would be free. 

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The student news site of Omaha North High Magnet School
“The House with the Clock in its Walls” wastes viewers’ time