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Movie Review

Monster House

MPAA Rating: PG for scary images and sequences, thematic elements, some crude humor and brief language

Reviewed by: Misty Wagner

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family
Animation Adventure Drama Family Fantasy
1 hr. 31 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
July 21, 2006 (wide)
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Sony Pictures Releasing

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Featuring: Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Steve Buscemi, Nick Cannon, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jon Heder, Kevin James, Jason Lee, Catherine O’Hara, Kathleen Turner, Fred Willard
Director: Gil Kenan—“Poltergeist” (2015)
Producer: Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, Jack Rapke
Distributor: Sony Pictures Releasing

“There goes the neighborhood.”

This year has seen an unusually large volume of “family” films come to the big screen. Some have obviously been better, and more suitable than others. Most had an average amount of inappropriateness or flaws, and why wouldn’t they?

These films are birthed through the eyes and vision of Hollywood. Many would argue that the main focus of Hollywood, when releasing family geared films, would be financial profit…. I like to hope for the best and quite often strain to see the good in things. In the case of Monster House, however, I see that the very last thing on anyone’s mind was a child.

What is so horrible about our children being children? Why must the world continue to push buttons and desensitize our children to no longer laugh at the innocence of a knock-knock joke. When an audience full of 4 and 5 year olds laughs hysterically over “jokes” about puberty, murder and the unreliability of adults to take care of kids, one can’t help but realize that somewhere along the way things have gone very wrong.

The basic premise of Monster House is that DJ’s parents are going away over night, leaving him home with a teenaged sitter. DJ, who is certain that the house across the street is evil, enlists the help of his best friend Chowder to get to the bottom of the mystery that is the house. While the two are playing basketball and talking about the house, Halloween and how they might finally be too old to go trick-or-treating—Chowder’s ball suddenly winds up in the yard of the “Evil” house. Soon the boys find themselves in a confrontation with the “old man” who owns the house, and as things turn from bad to worse. We suddenly see the old man keel over, toppling DJ to the ground and convincing both boys that he is dead.

It seems to be this moment when the house begins to become even more alive and sinister.

I could go on and on about the plot. It isn’t really that I fear giving some big secret away… Basically, I simply feel there isn’t a point in continuing. As a parent, I sat in the theatre feeling horrified that there were children present. Within the first ten minutes of the film, “oh my G**” is spoken several times; a mother and father drone on about their son’s “puberty;” a father REFUSES to tell his son he loves him; and the tone is set—proving that children are superior, while adults are brainless. I realize the latter is something children might find funny, and I get that. In a movie that is created to scare younger kids, the mere suggestion that their parents are incapable of protecting them is a bad idea. (And not just that they are incapable of protecting them, but that they simply don’t care to be.)

This film is showing in both 3-D and regular format. I imagine the 3-dimensional version appears more frightening, but even the regular format’s violence is intense. Things move quickly, and there are many instances which could both cause children to be scared as well as inspire restless sleep and nightmares.

To list everything offensive in this movie would make this a senselessly long review, so in an effort to be brief, I will name some of the more prevalent instances and offenses:

  • The babysitter (who is stereo-typically mean) has her boyfriend over well into the late night. While together, alone in the dark, they have a small fight and he leaves. She is furious that he left and states later that she EXPECTED him to come back. It was made clear that her intentions were to have this guy (whose name was Bonez) spend the night.

  • During the puberty discussion with his parents, DJ’s dad tells him that he knows he uses his telescope to look into the bedrooms of girls (he doesn’t). He goes on to tell him about how, when he was DJ’s age, he did the same thing with twin girls next door. This conversation was VERY inappropriate….

  • After staying out all night, Chowder is phoned by his very angry father. After disregarding everything his father says, he hangs up the phone while shouting to the receiver “You can kiss my big, hairy, butt!” and then turns to DJ and asks him if he has any beer.

  • After rescuing a girl named Jenny from the house, both boys begin to fight over her affections. Later in the film there is a kiss shared between Jenny and one boy, and even later the other boy insists she grabbed his “butt”.

  • After DJ thinks that he killed the old man, many light hearted jokes and comments are made about murder, about DJ being a murderer, etc….

  • Once the police are called and arrive, they are shown to be gluttonous, stupid and unreliable. I have noticed that’s become a common theme. Maybe, on occasion, it’s funny to laugh at a police man, but I couldn’t help but wonder what this teaches our kids. Do they really feel safer, knowing the police are there if needed, when the examples they see of police are so stunted?

  • “Oh my G**” is used repetitively, in one scene it’s yelled about 8 times in a row. References to lust, eating people, mutilation, murder, bottles filled with urine, lying, etc are far too numerous to list.

There isn’t really anything that I could pull positively from this film. The story is dark. The reason’s behind the “evil” of this house are sad and never truly resolved. The house, in and of itself, is in fact possessed. That isn’t something which should ever been taken lightly, especially not where children are concerned. As parent’s laughed, along with their children, my heart grieved… I grieved for our kids and what they miss out on by learning things too early and growing up far too fast.

I would have walked out after 15 minutes, had I not been reviewing this movie. Truthfully, parts of me still wish I had.

Recommended resource

The warning “Inappropriate for small children” should definitely be attached to this film, though it isn’t necessarily the very young children I am worried about. Many parents wouldn’t take a small child to see a movie that looks so scary. But what about our third, fourth and fifth graders? Though the scary violence may be more suited for their ages—I would argue that this film definitely is not. If parents are intent on taking their kids to see something a bit scarier this weekend, I would come closer to recommending M. Night Shyamalan’s “Lady in the Water”. Though that film is rated PG-13, and I haven’t seen it yet to give a more detailed opinion—at least his films are made with a thread of integrity and I am yet to see one of his projects even a quarter as offensive as this film.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Minor

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive—…Took my 10, 8, and 4 yr olds. It is pretty scary, and was probably a bit too scary for my 4 year old. A group of moms and kids actually got up and left after the first 10 minutes; it was a little too scary for them. Had a bit of rude humor, but overall was an entertaining movie. Any child under 6 who is easily scared I would not bring along. My older kids loved it. Has a ghost as a character.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—Marcy, age 40
Positive—The negative comments astound me. Anyone who takes their young children to see this movie obviously did not regard the PG-rating for “scary images and sequences, thematic elements, some crude humor and brief language.” This is a fantastic movie, but for older kids and teens. It is obviously not based on Biblical reality, but the title alone could have told you that. It is in many ways an homage to the adventure films of the 1980s, like “The Goonies”, “Back to the Future”, and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, all of which were rated “PG” and contained similar content. I’m sorry the children were scared, but please be more discerning about the film choices. This is not like “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” or “Babe II”, both of which were great, but should never have been rated “G”. The rating here actually warns you. As a movie intended for older children, this is a fantastic adventure involving kids on the brink of adolescence and learning to conquer fears without the help of grown-ups. The main characters seem very real and the animation is exciting. One of the better summer flicks I saw this year.
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
—Ben, age 24
Positive—…a great, strange, and scary film. While watching this, I felt it was different from more recent kids' movies in that it DOESN’T TREAT THEM LIKE BABIES. …For ONCE there’s a fun family movie that isn’t being spoon fed to us! FYI: kids like to be scared, occasionally. Now, it is rated PG, don’t take kids under about 9, but don’t act as if the littlest thing will put them in a coma or something. The plot was scary, funny, and had some nice twists. The humor was funny and the kind that kids the character’s ages use (I’d say the main characters were 12-13 years old). As for comments about puberty and boys liking girls, that’s what happens to kids! They grow up! …Overall, if you aren’t afraid of original ideas and some scary material, take your kids to see Monster House.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—Caleb, age 23
Positive—I would agree that the film material is not for small children. As a former Youth Pastor, the youth portrayed seem to be your average nerdy kids, transitioning into teenagers. Sometimes as teenagers we are not accepted like the old man and his “monster house”. When the old man was young, he was a small man in size and stature while all his comrades were buff and strong. He falls in love with a very large woman that is in a traveling circus. Even though she is rejected, he accepts her and is willing to protect her. But her bitterness has trapped him in the house which has become a monster in his life. The children in the story realize that through friendship, the bitterness of past hurts can be destroyed and a life of love and friendship can be started. I thought the movie is very deep in its message. I was put off at first, but after talking about it, I have realized it is a very positive film for teenagers and adults.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—Ramon, age 43
Neutral—If you have a child that scares easily, I would not recommend this film. I brought my soon to be 9 year old (August 18). Our 5 year old daughter wanted to join us, I’m glad I went with my feelings on this one. Two mom’s had to remove their younger children due to the scariness.

I did not care for the film’s depiction of the African American police officer. I am a married white female. If I was offended by the way the film depicted this officer, I’m sure the African American community might feel the same. Two moral issues I was mildly offended by: one incident of deceit and one incident of stealing. At dinner my daughter and I had stimulating conversation getting each other’s run-down on the pros and cons of the film. The storyline certainly gave ample opportunity to discuss biblically the dark-side and that it truly exists.

I know my daughter learned things we never (until this movie) ever began to touch on. If you are a parent that embraces the opportunity to age appropriate introduction of the world’s perspective on certain subjects, then this is a good film to take older children to. If, on the other hand, you’re not sure you want to handle the subject matter, wait until it comes out on DVD—view it for yourself—then decide. It was a positive experience for our mom and daughter outing. I will be looking forward to reading others comments as well.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 2
—Darlene, age 43
Neutral—I went to see this movie with my cousins and one of their friends, and I thought it was pretty good, but definitely more of a kid’s movie. Personally, I don’t understand why many of the people on this site feel that the movie has so much inappropriate content. I thought it was average for a PG movie. However, children under 7 may be scared by the haunted house.
My Ratings: Good / 3
—Jane, age 18
Negative—I usually check reviews before I take my children to any movie. This weekend we had extra kids staying with us, and I was looking for a cool environment and entertainment. We went to see this movie, and I will regret it for years to come. I am most angry that we stayed for the whole film. I thought it just had to get better. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Everyone of the kids disliked it. Parents, please don’t subject your children to this movie.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 1
—Liz Williams, age 29
Negative—I took my nine year old daughter this afternoon to beat the heat, the other option was Pirates. She didn’t want to see Pirates because she had heard it was creepy. Well, imagine my reaction to “Monster House”, it was more than creepy, it was extremely inappropriate for a “kid’s” movie. We thought about walking out; I wish we would have.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 3
—Terri, age 43
Negative—I was very surprised by the crude humor in “Monster House” considering the PG-rating. I was disappointed in a lot of the content and felt it should be rated PG-13. The owner of the scary house supposedly died of a heart attack and fell on top of one of the boys, who later kept referring to himself as a murderer. The babysitter’s boyfriend, Bones, tongued the main character’s stuffed rabbit after finding out it was a girl. He also had a “friendly” encounter with the babysitter while sitting on the living room couch, and as he left the house he was drinking a beer. One of the young boys had a bad attitude with his father on the phone while trying to impress a girl; where he told his dad to kiss his hairy butt. The same boy also stole medicine from his father’s pharmacy as part of a ploy to put the scary house to sleep. These moments caused an uncomfortable air for me considering the majority of kids in attendance were 10 and under. I felt the crude humor should have been omitted and would not recommend younger viewers to see this one. I would not have allowed my 6 year old to watch it, had I known what I do now.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
—Melissa Stanley, age 28
Negative—I am a Mother of two boys, 9 and 16. I took my 9 year old son on opening day. My son is a young, strong Christian—innocent at heart. He along with many other children were very afraid—crying and wanting to leave the movie. Several parents left with their toddlers. I requested and received two vouchers for another film. This film is not meant for young viewers. The content of house possession, sexual connotations, racial ignorance is not a message that our young children need to see from a film that was supposed to be for children. The rating should be changed to PG-13. My son now has to sleep in my room for fear that the monster house is coming to get him. I feel my son will be fearful for a long time.
My Ratings: Offensive / 2
—Denise, age 46
Negative—First of all, the rating for this movie should have been PG-13. Just because it is animated it doesn’t make it a cartoon. Throughout the movie there were morally disturbing events aside from the monster house. The boy is left with a babysitter who is cruel as is her demented boyfriend that she invites over. They purposely scare the boy and rip up his favorite stuffed toy which was upsetting. The house eats several people including the police and a dog. A large woman who was displayed in a freak show chases after some children who were throwing eggs at her with an axe and then is buried alive under cement. The entire plot was just not appropriate for children. My 10 year old walked out of this movie visually upset. There were less intense moments in Pirates 2 Dead Man’s Chest. 13 and up, I am sticking with that assessment.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 4
—April Pruitt, age 29
Negative—I just returned from seeing this movie and am still in a little shock. No one (certainly no children) should bother to see it. Besides the fact that it promotes demonic possession, hateful and sneaky baby-sitters, drunken boyfriends who come over to see hateful baby-sitters and then call them a “prude” when they don’t make out (or worse) with them, psychotic old men and even more psychologically disturbed wives, little boys excited about little girls—“grabbing their butts”—little girls stealing the money left by the parents for the babysitter to use wisely, ad nauseam…. Besides all of those facts, it’s just a ridiculously stupid movie!
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 4
—Brenda, age 38
Negative—My husband and I took our girls (ages 7 and 9) to see this movie. Half an hour into it, we left (and did get a refund). The first 10 minutes were OK. Then it went down hill fast. The babysitter’s boyfriend was drinking out of an amber colored bottle (beer) and consequently slurring and staggering and totally inappropriate with the girlfriend. The house appeared to have flames flicking up from the basement (very “hell” like), and a perceived dead man made phone calls. I got up and left the theatre and asked the movie management if the whole movie was this intense or did it all pan out in the end. The manager had not seen the movie, but several of the employees had. They all agreed that it was scary (a couple even stated that several kids were crying at the screening they saw) and that the movie even ended on a scary note. I question a PG-rating, especially when compared to other PG movies we’ve seen lately (“Chronicles of Narnia”, “Eight Below”, and even “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”). I do not recommend this movie. The first half hour showed inappropriate behavior, perceived alcohol consumption, and occult-inspired activity.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 3
—K. Warren, age 36
Negative—I took my 6 year old and 9 year old to see this film expecting more of a traditional “haunted” house movie. You know—the old, dilapidated, scary home in the neighborhood that children fear, but eventually discover is just owned by a misunderstood widow whom they come to know and welcome as a grandmother figure. What a mistake!! My best analogy for this movie is an animated version of “Poltergeist”. Besides all of the obvious moral objections that the reviewer points out—this movie preys on childhood fears; the scary shadows in the bedroom, creepy looking dead trees attacking, the “boogeyman” calling, the house that seems to personify evil.

Had my son not been part of a birthday party group, we would have left, and probably should have. I kept thinking, “Maybe if we stay there will be some resolution so they are not left with the vision of the house devouring anything in its grasp.” I was wrong. My 9 year old even commented that this was totally inappropriate and should have a PG-13 rating. Be very cautious of this film and the questions it will raise with your children.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 3
—Rachel, age 36
Negative—This movie is absolutely, completely morally bankrupt. I DO NOT RECOMMEND IT FOR CHILDREN OF ANY AGE. Let me explain:
This ADULT movie disguises itself as a children’s flick just because it’s animated. It is NOT a children’s movie!!! Please do your kids a favor and skip it! I write this out of absolute disgust; it was abhorrent!
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 4
—Jennifer Stein, age 32
Negative—I’ve never written a review before, because I don’t have a lot of extra time, but after seeing “Monster House,” I decided to make the time. I usually consult several Web sites for information about a movie before I go, but regretfully I didn’t this time. I took my daughter who is 4 and my son who is 9. It was scary, disturbing and offensive. I just kept thinking there’s got to be a light at the end of this dark tunnel, some moral lesson to redeem it, but there wasn’t, and I wished we would have before it was over. The most upsetting parts were when the kids steal cough medicine from the pharmacy where his dad works, references to puberty, the babysitter’s boyfriend drinking, the whole idea of the fat lady from the circus was just weird and disrespectful, and the overall darkness of it just leaves you with a heavy feeling. This is not even worthy of renting!
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 3
—Lucy, age 36
Negative—I took my children to see “Monster House”, and I regret I did. It is a very scary movie, not for little children. Older kids (say about 4th grade) might be okay with it.
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
Negative—The movie was well done. I carefully considered whether or not I thought my children were ready. (The 6 and 7 went, the 2 and 4 yr olds stayed home.) I was mistaken. I’m not expecting nightmares, but it was a little too much for them, but that was my judgment call, and I don’t blame anyone. My big objection: all of the adults are absent, self-centered and/or stupid, they don’t trust the kids when they are telling the truth, and the KIDS have to save the day. It’s such a popular message in everything from the Simpsons to Jimmy Neutron, and it’s really not helpful in parenting. I would not have gone if I had known this would reinforce that message.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 3
—Linda, age 35
Comments from young people
Negative—This movie was a bit disappointing. They just added too many crude remarks and moments to make it entirely enjoyable. As a 13 year old, I enjoyed the chills and jump scenes. However, I would not recommend this film to anyone under the age of 10 for the following reasons:

Overall, the plot was fairly interesting. But because of the aforesaid crude remarks, I wouldn’t recommend it as a family movie.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
—Leslie, age 13

Neutral—I watched this movie with 2 of my friends (who are 13 also) last night, and I thought it was an okay movie. There were a couple of inappropriate parts that I saw, like using the Lord’s name in vain a lot, Bonez (Zee, Dj’s babysitter’s boyfriend) pretending to kiss Dj’s stuffed animal before tearing it and throwing it on the ground, Zee having Bonez at Dj’s house so late, and Chowder’s comment about Jenny “Grabbing his butt.” There was one very mild kiss at the end. …My friend who isn’t christian told me the movie should’ve been rated PG-13. But, overall, I liked this movie, and I would probably buy it.
My Ratings: Average / 3
—Alyssa, age 13
Positive—…a great movie. funny, sweet.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Stephanie, age 14
Negative—This was a horrible movie. I saw about 10 minutes of it with a group of friends and one of my spiritual mothers, and there was an eerie feeling about it as soon as it began; we then had to walk out and get our money back. Film companies do not rate movies for how sketchy, morally, it really feels. They only rate for sex, drug use, and violence. I highly do not recommend for (especially) those under 13, and people prone to nightmares. It’s a pretty satanic flick, trying to enforce fear, and I suggest that people considering this pray before they go. It’s more of a halloween movie. I’m almost 17 and one part I saw gave me the chills, so seriously weigh the kids' age and maturity before you go.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 3
—Hannah, age 16