August 4, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 31
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A fun & scary animated film for all ages - a violent, but very slick Miami Vice remake
A fun & scary animated film for all ages - a violent, but very slick Miami Vice remake
by Rajkhet Dirzhud-Rashid - SGN A&E Writer

Monster House

Directed by Gil Kenan
With voiceovers by: Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee
Catherine O'hara, Kathleen Turner, Fred Willard
Now playing

Miami Vice

Directed by Michael Mann
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, John Hawkes, John Ortiz, Luis Tosar
Gong Li, Naomi Harris, Ciaran Hinds
Now playing

A friend and I thought that 'Monster House', the latest in a series of animated features-one has to wonder, is it cheaper to use the voices of big name actors than their bodies-should have been released during Hallowe'en. It's that kind of film, or animated film in this case. There's the 'evil' neighbor across the street, who lives in a creepy, old house, and who yells at anyone who dares to tread upon his perfect lawn. And there are two geeky kids, who know there's something wicked going on in the same house, when its owner seems to drop dead after yelling at one of the boys, DJ, who trespasses on the above mentioned lawn.

The house is eating people, and dogs and in one case, a police car and the policemen who come to investigate, after the two boys (now joined by a perky and much wiser girl) call them. She has been nearly eaten alive by the 'Monster House', and wants the adults to do something about the situation, but they, being adults, refuse to believe her and have to learn the hard way about this sinister house.

Funny, creep at times and bound to make anyone who's ever had a 'scary neighbor', or had in their neighborhood a 'haunted house' (or one that everyone said was haunted), remember how much fun such shenanigans were at the time. And the night I saw it, not only were the kids laughing and reacting to the spooky doings, but some adults were too, so I'd call this an animated film for all ages. Go see it, have fun remembering, or making up some new stories for the young ones in your life now.

And maybe see this film after you see-if you see-the dark and highly charged remake of the '80's television series, 'Miami Vice'. Or see it before, so you will have a happy thought or two running through your mind when the bullets start flying and the blood begins to spatter every surface available in this tense thriller. And no, there are no bad eighties hairdos, no awful eighties fashions and nothing that would even resemble the series I hardly ever watched, but heard a lot about.

In this film, detectives Crockett (Colin Farrell), and Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) are on the hunt for a nasty drug cartel that has made itself known by killing the family of an undercover detective (John Hawkes), and eventually the detective too. Using Aryan Brotherhood thugs as enforcers and working with a cold-hearted and brutal middleman name 'Jero' (John Ortiz), the cartel is doing big business and bodies are piling up in their path. Thus Crockett and Tubbs are brought into the case, with the hope that by going undercover as new drug dealers with 'street cred', they can bring down the whole sordid operation.

And yes, the action is slick and fast and dirty and everything looks like something one could call 'detective/action noir', but there's so much violence. And we're not talking typical pull the camera away at the last moment violence, but the kind that looks so real it'll make your heart pound in your chest. It's woven in with two very tender love scenes, so, I had to ask myself, why is it Hollywood is responding to the right wing's attempts at censoring sex by tacking on the kind of gore that'd make Sam Peckinpah run to the bathroom with an unsettled stomach. Still, that thought aside, this is one hell of a show, full of non-stop action, gritty, realistic locales and the fabulous Gong Li (who for a certain critic who didn't know, is speaking with a Chinese accent, that being her first language), as a 'lady crime boss'. I'd just advise not seeing this if you're squeamish, because it'll unnerve you, believe me.

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