REVIEW: The House With A Clock In Its Walls

The House With A Clock In Its Walls is about a bookish orphan named Lewis in the late 50s…I think? The time period is a little wobbly. Anyway, Lewis goes to live with his eccentric uncle played by Jack Black after being, ya know, orphaned. Little does Lewis know that his uncle is more than eccentric, he’s a wizard! Together with his uncle’s best friend, played by Cate Blanchett, Lewis learns to navigate the world of the arcane while also dealing with the unfortunate nature of grief and the general horribleness of growing up.

Overall, the film seemed like a very rigid adaptation of a children’s novel. Though I’ve never read the book it had all the symptoms: pacing issues, unearned character development, and 10,000 times more dialogue than necessary. This stilted approach to story barred it from the punchy-ness a narrative really needs to be effective on screen.

That's not to say The House with a Clock in Its Walls is boring. I thought Blanchette and Black hit all the right beats and earnestly rescued some of the REALLY poorly paced scenes with their indomitable charisma. (see what I did there people who actually watched this?)

The effects blended the worlds of horror and whimsy excellently! There was this delicate tone to the magical elements. It felt more dangerous than the early Harry Potter films but just as fun and mysterious. Really smart move with that one. 

The thing is, some creepy lookin’ pumpkins does not a movie make.

I didn't care about the milquetoast training montage, I didn't care about the "aw shucks" junior high side story, and I certainly didn't care about the cookie cutter protagonist who exchanged multisyllabic words for a personality. By the time it was over, I found that I really didn't care about any aspect of the film.

It hardly made me laugh, I certainly didn’t cry, and it never surprised me…but it also didn’t disappoint me. It was just, there. Existing. Almost without purpose.

So all this to say, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is yet another holiday filler movie. You know the kind I'm talking about. The kind of thing to find on TV during October, to watch while also surfing Twitter, and then to instantly forget.