Monster House Directed by Gil Kenan Columbia, opens July 21
Three kids are intimidated by a creepy old man named Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi, animated in such a way that one can easily imagine how well he might have played Gollum) and his frightening old house, which seems to literally consume toys carelessly left on its lawn. When Nebbercracker apparently has a heart attack, the house gets even scarier, acting autonomously and making scary "faces" with its windows, door, and porch. In this latest extravaganza from executive producers Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, millions of dollars and long hours in the digital-animation studios have produced . . . a photorealistic, computer-animated, generic American suburb! The coolest thing about Monster House is that Kathleen Turner's face was actually motion-captured to create the house's movements, but actual human beings on-screen might have ratcheted up the tension, of which there is none.