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Western Animation / Monster House

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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.
  • Adults Are Useless: With the exception of Horace Nebbercracker (and, to a degree, Skull), 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.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Chowder shows signs of having ADD or ADHD.
  • Axe-Crazy: The house. Constance also shows signs of this in life. After all, when angry, she wanted to chase off two kids that were harassing her with an axe.
  • 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.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Jenny's entrepreneurial skills are so good, she manages to sell a lot to a very satisfied Zee, who kept trying to shoo her away.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Chowder, DJ and Jenny.
  • Braids of Action: Jenny's hairstyle, which becomes this once she's brought on the adventure.
  • Broken Glass Penalty: Chowder guilt trips DJ into retrieving his new ball after it is lost on Nebbercracker's yard.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The heavy machinery at the dig site, specifically the crane.
    • The house's uvula.
  • 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: Nebbercracker as part of his Jerkass Façade. 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: Nebbercracker had to scare all the children away, or else the house would eat them.
  • Demolitions Expert: An old picture shows that Nebbercracker was evidently a former military demoman, which explains why he keeps a crate of dynamite in the house.
  • 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.
  • Egging: While the titular house was under construction, children threw eggs and rocks at it, which caused Constance to try and attack them.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The titular house, (aka Constance) and its/ her final form.
  • Eldritch Location: The titular house. Especially when Constance starts to affect the insides more.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The dynamite that finally finishes off Constance, as well as the construction equipment.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: For a certain extent of evil. Zee can only watch Bones bully DJ for so long before telling him to lay off.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • Fat and Skinny: A few examples. DJ is a very thin boy while his friend Chowder, while not exactly fat, is somewhat chubby, and then there's the two cops, Landers (fat) and Lester (skinny). And although they don't interact until the end, Skull (fat) and Bones (skinny) used to be in a band together.
  • Fat Bastard: To a degree, Constance, although she's more sympathetic than most because of her Freudian Excuse.
  • 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 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 Nebbercracker.
  • Freudian Excuse: The titular Monster House is possessed by the angry spirit of Constance, a woman who was mocked her entire life because she was obese and used to be exposed as a circus freaknote  until Nebbercracker helped her escape. Constance died while trying to chase off two kids that were pranking her and her spirit never forgot that kids used to mock and harass her.
  • Fun-Hating Confiscating Adult: Justified and Subverted: 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.
      • The Croatian dub translates the word "crap" as "sranje" (and the whole sentence is translated as "Dosta sranja"). In Croatia, the word "sranje" is generally recognized as a strong word closer to "bullshit" (or just "shit") than "crap" - though all three of those translate the same - and as a result we have a case of someone (and a kid, nonetheless) actually saying something that would translate back as "Enough bullshit".
    • After Jenny notes that the house has an uvula, Chowder states that it's a "girl" house. It was even featured in the trailers.
    • The Latin American dub actually went further than the original, with Chowder confusing uvula (being the same word in Spanish) for óvulo (Spanish for egg cell), and then saying that the house is monstruating.
    • 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.
    • 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 Bones of his stuffed rabbit's gender, Bones pretends to make out with the rabbit.
    • Bones is seen tackling Zee and trying to make out with her, but she resists and kicks him out of the house, after which 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: The little girl at the beginning of the film wears these.
  • Girls Have Cooties: Subverted. Both DJ and Chowder develop crushes on Jenny the moment they see her.
  • Good All Along: Nebbercracker is not as evil as he initially appears to be.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Nebbercracker. At least this is what he pretends to be.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: The house can get angry with minimal provocation.
  • 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 Façade: 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: Horace Nebbercracker, who acts angry and crazy towards people but turns out not to be such a bad guy.
  • Morality Pet: Nebbercracker is this to Constance. She never tries to harm him until he tries to blow up the house with dynamite.
  • 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 lips.
  • 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.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The funny scene where the house eats the police car whole was different in the movie. Not only were the two cops swallowed separately, but the kids were the only ones inside the car.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Yes, Nebbercracker, saving Constance is a wonderful idea that will not come back to bite you in the arse...
    • Nebbercracker's modus operandi is to terrorize kids away from the house and confiscate their toys to keep them away... but this allows the house to use the toys as lures and temptations so it can eat more victims.
  • Object Tracking Shot: The leaf at the beginning of the movie.
  • One-Winged Angel: The titular house, who turns out to be Constance's vengeful spirit merged with it, becomes more and more monstrous the more times it attacks until eventually she's using two trees in the front yard as legs. After Constance is destroyed, she reforms into a gigantic, bloodthirsty orb of broken wood with More Teeth than the Osmond Family supported by two trees she uses for legs, becoming 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 a malevolent 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. According to a designer on the film, it was heavily inspired by Ghosts 'n Goblins and Castlevania, and made sure to recreate the 16-bit look of games from the period.
  • Police Are Useless: Though, in fairness, there's only two cops in the movie, 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.
  • Properly Paranoid: Nebbercracker wanted to make sure the children leave his house so that it wouldn't provoke Constance's wrath.
  • Rabid Cop: On the one hand, children should learn to respect the law and shouldn't throw stones at people's houses. On the other hand, DUDE DID YOU JUST THREATEN TO SHOOT SOME KIDS?! Police who behaved that way in Europe would lose their badge on the spot, first week or not, but in America it makes for a good joke because it's not happening to you right now.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Chowder is indeed right about the spirit possessing the house being a female, but it's not because it has an uvula in its mouth (which he probably heard as "uterus", or possibly "vulva", which is even dirtier).
  • 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 vengeful spirit of Constance, Mr. Nebbercracker's wife. Which makes it a house-wife. Made much clearer when DJ uses the term unironically at the end.
  • 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.
  • 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 Guys and a Girl: The main trio.
  • 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, LIVING GODDAMN 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.
    • Don't forget the squick bottles.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Constance was not happy about the circumstances of her death and her treatment in life, and she ain't at rest.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Subverted with everyone eaten by the house, who appear during the end credits.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Constance was forced to be part of a circus as The Freakshow and was mercilessly mocked by the public and probably mistreated by the owner of the circus. (She did have to sleep in a cage.) Then she found happiness when Mr. Nebbercracker rescued her and married her, only to die tragically by falling to her death in the foundation of her house when she tried to chase off the kids that were harassing her. Her angry spirit then became part of the house, unable to pass away.
  • Wrong Insult Offence: When DJ accidentally kills his neighbor in a fight (or so he thinks), Chowder 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, trespasses near her 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.