Kooky, magic clock house goes ‘tic’ tock

Midwest Times - - THE EDGE -

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.

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