Kooky, magic clock house goes ‘tic’ tock
The House with a Clock in its Walls Rated PG, Stars Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Kyle MacLachlan Review: Leigh Paatsch
A family-friendly (ish) affair, The House with a Clock in Its Walls (rated PG) is an endearingly odd mash-up of some tried-and-true elements.
What mostly comes to mind is a mildly Americanised Harry Potter adventure, and any old Goosebumps tale you can’t quite recall.
The house mentioned in the title is pretty much a School of Witchcraft and Warlockery, run as a one-man operation by a kooky spellcaster named Jonathan Barnavelt (Jack Black).
The only student on the books is his 10-year-old orphan nephew Lewis (Owen Vaccaro), and the only other teacher on staff is next-door neighbour and no-nonsense enchantress Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett).
As for the clock in the walls, that’s been planted there as a paranormal prank by Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan), the former owner of the happily haunted home. This decidedly deceased gent may or may not be leaving the local graveyard to look up his old address soon.
With their good-natured bickering and hyper-eccentric behavioural tics, Black and Blanchett prove to be a double act that repeatedly saves The House with a Clock in Its Walls from indulging in too much unnecessary scary or soppy stuff.
Though the story arguably focuses a little too closely on the trials and tribulations of Lewis at school — to the point where everything gets a bit dull — the moments where Black and Blanchett are free to cut loose are always worth sticking around for.
The special-effects work here is top notch. However, it should be mentioned that some fantasy sequences may be a touch too frightening for some younger viewers.
Jack Black in The House with a Clock in Its Walls.