“The House With A Clock In Its Walls” stars Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, and Kyle MacLachlan and is based on a children’s novel by John Bellairs. Director Eli Roth presents a fairly charming film but probably not one I will remember for very long.
A young orphan is taken in by a very eccentric uncle who means well but has a few secrets. He has a mysterious friendship with his equally strange yet charming neighbor who has quite the fondness for purple. Lewis Barnavelt, played by Owen Vaccaro, is the typical shy oddball who seems to really struggle with fitting in with fellow students even without the grief of his parents’ recent death. He finds that his uncle is in possession of a temperamental, magical house that possesses its own secrets.
Black and Blanchett are entertaining enough as the playfully bickering neighbors and friends. Vaccaro holds his own with a solid enough performance.
The visual effects were fine. There were moments of real imagination and creativity with various menacing, bizarre objects bedeviling the protagonists. The costumes were pretty eye-catching.
Blanchett still managed to look quite attractive in spite of the peculiarity of her appearance in this film. She also had some very effective scenes when she had to act as the conscience of Black’s Uncle Jonathan.
The story takes place in 1955, and I thought the period was captured well enough. Some of it appeared to be a little exaggerated at times, but this was based on a children’s story, so I think I could forgive that easily enough.
MacLachlan played his part well enough as the evil wizard known as Isaac Izard. His role just seemed to be fairly cliché, but he handled it fine. Renee Elise Goldsberry played his wife, Selena. Once again, the performances were fine but nothing all that engaging between the two of them. They were outshined by Black and Blanchett as far as entertaining banter and chemistry.
There were times that coherence seemed to falter. There was of course one rule of the house that young Lewis just had to break, which seemed a bit predictable.
There was not anything to really hate about this film, but there was little that really seems likely to stay with me. It was a reasonably enjoyable film in spite of some of the silliness peppered throughout.