||Eddie Murphy, Terence Stamp, Nathaniel Parker, Marsha Thomason,
Jennifer Tilly, Wallace Shawn, Dina Waters, Marc John Jefferies, &
If you're hearing a loud thumping sound as you're
reading this and wondering what it is, don't worry. It's just me
banging my head against the wall over this movie "The Haunted
Mansion." Well not over the movie so much, but the fact that
I'm puzzled over what's up with Eddie Murphy's career. 1996's "Nutty
Professor" remake saved him and brought his work into a new
genre: children's films. Not that I don't like seeing Eddie in these
types of movies, it’s just that they've become progressively
worse. "Daddy Day-Care" wasn't a movie milestone, but
it did have some heart and was a step up from the weightless comedy
"I Spy", his previous feature. I guess the moderate success
of "Daddy Day-Care" and the inevitable success of this
latest venture will kill all my hopes of seeing Murphy return to
R-rated and hilarious material like Beverly Hills Cop. (1&2
not 3) Note the word hilarious, because its been a long time since
I've laughed hard at one of his films and "Haunted Mansion"
doesn't fall under the terms of hilarious, humorous or even amusing.
It's full of jokes, but the biggest one is on us and perhaps Murphy
Murphy stars as Jim Evers a workaholic real estate broker who despite
promising his wife, Sara (Marsha Thomason) a quite weekend with
their kids, finds himself meeting with a prospective client in an
old mansion in the country. The mansion is owned by Master Gracey
(Nathaniel Parker) and run by his servant Ramsley (Terence Stamp)
but what the Evers family don't know is that they hide a century
old secret: they're all dead. Gracey committed suicide after the
death of his fiancé and has continued to haunt the castle
with his servants, hoping to be reunited with his love in the reincarnated
form of Sara. What's this you ask? A white dude wants to take Eddie
Murphy's woman away from him? Not a chance, unless this is a Saturday
Night Live skit.
I'm sorry to say that this film was such an unrewarding experience
that it’s difficult to write about. Yes it's another movie
based on a theme park ride but unlike last summer's "Pirates
of the Caribbean" it looks like not much effort was put into
it. What's the problem? You've got Eddie Murphy at the biggest studio
in Hollywood, unlimited special effects at your disposal and Rob
Minkoff, the director of "The Lion King" and the "Stuart
Little" series. Eddie Murphy doesn't even look like he's trying.
The first half of the film he's exposed to the supernatural, levitated
in a chair by Jennifer Tilly (inside a crystal ball as the disembodied
head of a fortune teller in a thankless role) and he still has trouble
believing his kids when they tell him the house is full of ghosts.
I've heard of suspension of disbelief, but this is ridiculous.
And don't get me started on Terence Stamp. I don't know if he was
trying to impress his grandkids or needed money to by a water heater
for his house, but here we have one of the greatest and iconic actors
of his generation wasted in a cardboard role. I was dying to see
him and Murphy play off each other as the funny and straight man
but instead Murphy is neither funny and Stamp looks like he wants
to put him in a straight jacket.
Alright this is a kid’s film, so we can't have blood and
guts all over the place, but a little thrill please? This is "The
Haunted Mansion" and the only cool or slightly thrilling effect
is a sequence involving some re-animated corpses who initially pose
a threat but are quickly locked away in a crypt. Disney had real
balls and succeeded by making "Pirates of the Caribbean"
their first PG-13 film, why couldn't they have done the same and
given us some PG-13 thrills. Will the kids love it? I'm not a kid,
how should I know. I'm sure they'll be satisfied by what cheap thrills
are thrown at them and they won't get scared, but it's a helluva
way to keep them busy (or torture them) if you ask me. If a remake
of the "Charlie Chan" series ever materializes Murphy
has a great shot at playing cowardly chauffer Mantan Moreland. Wait
a minute, isn't Lucy Liu working on an update of that series? Guess
I spoke too soon. Shoot me now, please!