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  • Writer's pictureMr. Pat

Haunted Mansion

Good news! A day after getting spayed, Penny is mostly back to normal! They said everything went fine, but after we lost our sweet Bodie, I was worried for Penny the whole time she was there. But this morning when she jumped on me and her tail was wagging, I breathed a sigh of relief. Yes, I know she's not supposed to be jumping, I told her to get down. Still, it made me happy to see that she was OK. Anyway, after bringing her home, my family and I sat down to watch....

Haunted Mansion (2023)

I believe I reviewed the 2003 version of this movie last year. From what I remember, I enjoyed it, but it was mainly on the strength of Eddie Murphy. I don't remember too much about it now that I think about it. While the movies are 20 years apart, it seems weird to me to review them in back-to-back years, but it's nice because they're completely different movies.

Gabbie (Rosario Dawson) and her son move into Gracey Manor and the ghosts don't waste any time making their presence felt. They're not there 10 minutes before a ghosty chases them away before laughing that they'll be back. We then switch perspectives to Ben. He's brilliant, but broken. They don't tell you exactly what it was at first, but something tragic happened to him and he's a shell of his former self. He spends his time drinking and giving ghost tours of New Orleans, barely keeping his disdain for the people paying him and lashing out at them when they talk about ghosts.

Everything changes when he gets a visit from Father Kent, played by Owen Wilson. He tells Ben about Gabbie and offers to pay him to check it out. Before he gave up on life, Ben had spent time inventing a camera that could detect dark matter. He doesn't have anything better to do so off he goes. When he gets there, Gabbie warns him that stepping into the house will change his life forever. He laughs and takes the stack-full of hundreds and BSs his way through the house. It's not until he gets home that he realizes that a ghost has followed him home and won't leave him until he goes back to the mansion.

When he gets there, he finds the family, along with Father Kent camping out in the living room. They explain to him they either find a way to break the curse or be haunted forever. The group then enlists the help of a New Orleans haunted house expert, a professor played by Danny Devito. While Father Kent is explaining who he is, he tells Ben that Devito wrote a book on the subject and has sold nine copies. It's played for laughs, but as a self-published author, that one cut deep! Finally, they get the help of a medium played by Tiffany Haddish to complete the team.

I liked it. The first movie was a straightforward ghost story that was carried by a single man. This one has a much bigger story that touches on a lot of subjects. It broaches the afterlife, faith, loss, meaning and grief in a way that's not heavy-handed. Usually a Disney movie will smack you over the head with a sledgehammer that says "MESSAGE" but this one deals with those topics with a lot more grace and subtlety. I appreciated that about the movie. A lot is going on in this story and it manages to balance everything in a satisfying way.

It's also funny. It doesn't have many laugh-out-loud moments, but the humor is there and it's consistent. It also knows when to drop the laughs and get serious. The characters understand the danger they're in and the movie does too. It's also good because every single character gets a moment to shine. It can be tough with such an impressive cast, (they even got Jamie Lee Curtis!) but none of them are wasted. All of them are funny and each plays a big role in the finale.

The ghost's effects are good too. None of them are all that frightening outside of the bride. But Jared Leto as the "Hatbox Ghost" is a big standout. You don't get to see him in his glory until near the end, but early in the movie, when he does show up, it's very effective. He's covered in darkness, hunched over wearing a top hat and holding a lantern. I liked his powers too. When they're running away from him, he has complete control over the house. He plays with perspectives, moves around walls and makes windows disappear. It's cool to watch his full power on display.

I don't have any complaints. It's just a very fun movie with a very good cast. It's also not too scary either as President Baby was mostly entertained by the movie and didn't try to hide at any point. Disney hopes this movie will be the jumping-off point for another franchise in the line of Pirates of the Caribbean. I'm intrigued about where they'll go with it and I'm kind of excited to see more movies set in this universe.

Wait, before I go I remember the one complaint I had. The movie takes place in New Orleans but there isn't a single N'awlins accent! That is my favorite US accent and I feel like I've been cheated! If that sort of thing doesn't bother you, I think you'll like this movie!

8 Dr. Chainsaws!

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