Western Animation / Monster House


DJ: "Zee, it's true there's something evil going on across the street."
Zee: "That's excellent. I'm really happy for you."

Monster House is a 2006 computer animated and motion capture film. It was produced by Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis and written by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab.

The movie focuses on DJ Walters, a boy who is convinced that there's something strange about the house across the street, and believes the house across the street from him is alive. When his parents go away for the weekend, he tries convincing his babysitter that there is something wrong about the house. She does not believe him, so DJ enlists the help of his best friend Chowder and Jenny, a girl selling Halloween candy (and who nearly gets eaten by the house). Together, the three of them try to destroy the monster house, along the way figuring out its secret.

This movie provides examples of:

  • The '80s: Though never mentioned, many signs throughout the film pinpoint the film as being set sometime in the mid-to-late 1980's. It's most likely 1987, due to Halloween falling on a Saturday that year. Further supporting this is the fact "Thou Art Dead" is actually the arcade game Barbarian, which was also released in '87.
  • Adults Are Useless: With the exception of Mister Nebbercracker, pretty much every grown up in the film is some combination of stupid and oblivious.
  • All-CGI Cartoon
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Elizabeth/Zee and Bones. Subverted in the end when she starts going out with the resident nerd, Skull.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese dub has "Seishun no Tobira" as its theme song.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Chowder shows signs of having ADD or ADHD.
  • Axe Crazy: The house. Constance also shows signs of this in life.
  • Babysitter from Hell: Subverted with Zee. Though largely apathetic to DJ, she calls off Bones when he continues harassing her charge, and even gives the kids some halloween candy.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Chowder, DJ and Jenny.
  • Brick Joke:
    Chowder: Oh, so it's a girl house...
    • The crane.
    • The house's uvula
  • Broken Glass Penalty: Chowder guilt trips DJ into retrieving his new ball after it is lost on Nebbercracker's yard.
  • Chekhov's Skill: During the main character's break-in inside the house, a photograph in the house reveals that Mr. Nebbercracker was a veteran engineer during (perhaps) the Second World War. This proved instrumental with destroying the house using dynamite during the climax.
  • Child Hater: Mr. Nebbercracker as part of his Jerkass Fašade. Constance in life was this, due to the fact that kids made fun of her during her time as a circus freak, and were throwing stuff at her house.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Mr. Nebbercracker had to scare all the children away, or else the house would eat them.
  • Demonic Possession: The house is possessed by Constance, who resides in her cage in the basement.
  • Determinator: Even after chasing the kids halfway across the town (presumably), battling a bulldozer, falling off a cliff, and being destroyed by the fall, the house still won't stop trying to kill them. See One-Winged Angel below.
  • Dying Town: Debatable since they're obviously getting new development where the showdown occurs at the end.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The titular house and its final form.
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: The dynamite that finally finishes off Constance, as well as the construction equipment.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Zee can only watch Bones bully DJ for so long before telling him to lay off.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • Favouritism Flip Flop
    DJ: Questions?
    Chowder: Yes, umm, are you nuts? I don't wanna steal drugs from my Father, I don't wanna go inside a monster, and I don't wanna die!
    Jenny: I say it's worth a shot.
    Chowder: Yes I agree. Let's do it.
  • Fictional Video Game: Thou Art Dead.
  • First Kiss: DJ's Motivational Kiss from Jenny also seems to have been his first, much to his joy.
    DJ: "I kissed a girl. I kissed a girl on the lips."
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The whole joke about Jenny mentioning the house's uvula, with Chowder mishearing it and claiming the house is female.
    • Before he collapses at the beginning of the film, Nebbercracker is clearly about to call the house "her."
    • Zee's shirt when Jenny is selling candy to her reads "Skull Bones". Bones is the name of her boyfriend at the start of the film. Skull is the name of the guy she dates at the end.
    • The Monster House wakes up after Mr. Nebbercracker breaks his arm and passes out. Cracks appear on the windows to signify that the house is upset.
  • The Freakshow: Constance was trapped in one until she was rescued by Mr. Nebbercracker.
  • Fun-Hating Confiscating Adult: Justified and subverted: Mr. Nebbercracker cultivated the "scary, cranky old man" image, and would snatch the toys that ended up landing on his lawn to protect kids from trying to retrieve them, because his house was sentient, possessed by the vengeful spirit of his wife who had big issues with nasty, pranking hooligan children and couldn't tell them from non-malicious children being playful. The truth is that he was a kind-hearted sweet old man who was happy to give the toys back once the danger was over.
  • Geek: Skull.
  • Geeky Turn-On: At the end, when Zee starts dating Skull.
  • Genius Loci: The house, of course.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • When Zee tells Jenny she's just a babysitter, Jenny decides to "cut the crap" and get straight to business.
    • After Jenny notes that the house has an uvula, Chowder states that it's a "girl" house. It was even featured in the trailers.
    • How on earth did this one slip past the censors?
    Chowder: Whoa. Look at all these toys!
    Jenny: This must be where Nebbercracker keeps his stash.
    Chowder: (under breath) Heh. Stash.
    • In the scene where Elizabeth's boyfriend tackles her, he appears to be trying to "have his way with her."
    • Chowder's parents. Very subtle.
      DJ: Chowder, where are your parents?
      Chowder: My dad's at the pharmacy and my mom's with her personal trainer at the movies.note 
    • When DJ corrects Elizabeth's boyfriend of his stuffed rabbit's gender, the boyfriend pretends to make-out with the rabbit.
    • After Elizabeth kicks her boyfriend out of the house, he mutters "prude".
    • At one point, Chowder asks DJ if he has any beer.
    • Bones is actually seen drinking beer and appears to be drunk when he approaches the house.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Jenny wears these.
  • Girls Have Cooties: Subverted. Both DJ and Chowder develop crushes on Jenny the moment they see her.
  • Good All Along: Nebbercracker.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Mr. Nebbercracker. At least this is what he pretends to be.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: The house.
  • Haunted House: Played with; obviously the house is haunted, but the poltergeist Constance is the house.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Chowder and DJ towards Jenny.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Many of the characters bear very good likeness to their voice actors. Maggie Gyllenhaal as Zee being among the best examples.
  • Ironic Echo: One of the main gags advertised in the film is when Jenny points out the House's uvula, and Chowder, mistaking the word for something else, exclaims "Oh, so it's a girl house!" Turns out, it is.
  • Jerkass: Bones.
  • Jerkass Fašade: Mr. Nebbercracker. He does this to protect the children from his house/wife Constance.
  • Just a Kid: Why no one will initially believe DJ.
  • Kid Heroes: DJ, Chowder, and Jenny.
  • Kids Are Cruel: This could all have been avoided if not for cruel kids teasing Constance and eventually causing her to fall to her death in the foundation of her new house.
  • Living Structure Monster: The titular creature is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a monstrous, animate house.
  • The Load: For most of the film, Chowder does nothing but screw up and slow DJ and Jenny down.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Mr. Nebbercracker, who acts angry and crazy towards people but turns out not to be such a bad guy.
  • Morality Pet: Mr. Nebbercracker is this to Constance.
  • Motion Capture
  • Motivational Kiss: At the climax, DJ is faced with the task of climbing up a crane and dropping a stick of dynamite down Constance's chimney, destroying her once and for all. When he says that he doesn't think he can do it, Jenny loudly proclaims, "Yes, you can!" before kissing him on the mouth.
  • Moving Buildings: Especially at the end of the film.
  • Never Live It Down: In-universe. Constance never forgot the kids that used to tease her.
  • Object Tracking Shot: The leaf at the beginning of the movie.
  • One-Winged Angel: The titular house becomes more and more monstrous the more times it attacks until eventually it's using two trees in the front yard as legs. After the house is destroyed, it reforms into a giant bloodthirsty orb of broken wood supported by two trees it uses for legs. Leading to a Clipped Wing Angel.
  • Operation Jealousy: It's heavily implied the reason Zee hooks up with Skull is to get back at Bones.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The house is possessed by an angry spirit that eats people who come too close to it...
  • Pac Man Fever: Averted. Uber-nerd Skull is a purported master of Thou Art Dead, an arcade game at the pizza joint he works for. The game shown on the screen is actually the side-scrolling platform game Barbarian published for home computers back in 1987. So within the films likely setting, The '80s, the game is wholly accurate. The in-movie name came from Barbarian's iconic Game Over screen featuring the skeletal Big Bad of the game leering at the player with the words "THOU ART DEAD" in flaming letters.
  • Police Are Useless: Though, in fairness, there's only two cops in the entire town, one of whom has only been on the job for under a week. Oh, and Judy back at the station.
  • Product Placement: The people in this movie sure like Mr. Clean.
  • Senior Creep: Mr. Nebbercracker, whom the others don't like due to his scary demeanor and habit of taking everything that ends up on his lawn.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Jenny.
  • Stealth Pun: It is revealed that the house is possessed by the spirit of Constance, Mr. Nebbercracker's wife. Which makes it a house-wife.
  • Stylistic Suck: The animators tried to go for a Stop Motion feel when animating this movie, to attempt to avoid Uncanny Valley feel of pieces the team did before, like The Polar Express. Despite being from 2005, this makes the aging of the movie seem less apparent to most.
  • íThree Amigos!
  • Tragic Monster: The House once we find out it's possessed by Constance who died tragically because of some cruel kids who was harassing her.
  • Two Decades Behind
  • Undeath Always Ends: At the end of the movie, the house is finally destroyed, setting Constance's spirit free.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: There's a BIG FREAKING HOUSE stomping its way through the middle of a suburban neighborhood, and NO ONE comes out of their house to see what's going on.
  • Urine Trouble: A dog pees on a jack-o-lantern, putting out its flame.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Subverted with the dog, the cops, and Bones, during the end credits.
    • Played straight with Zee, who vanishes partway through the movie and misses all the action. She returns after Bones gets out of where Nebbercracker's house was. At some point in between events she met Skull and they hit it off.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Constance.
  • Wrong Insult Offence: When the hero accidentally kills his neighbor in a fight (or so he thinks), his friend reassures him that he's not a murderer - after all, killing someone accidentally is called manslaughter.
  • Yandere: Constance, a.k.a the house. If anyone disrespects her house or tries to take her husband away, she'll gobble them up.
  • You Have to Believe Me: When the kids tell two police officers about the house.