The Ant Bully

Animation film voiced by Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee and Kathleen Turner. Directed by Gil Kenan.
Running Time: 90 minutes.
Rated: Rated PG.
This is a fine surprise. It is one of the best of the many animated films screening for holidays. Adults will enjoy a touch of horror with their children who don't mind a reasonable scare or two.

Produced by Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis (with computer techniques used in Polar Express) and directed by a young enthusiastic animator, Gil Kenan, Monster House is full of imagination and energy. The dialogue is witty and the voices from a top line of actors (including Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee, Kevin James, Kathleen Turner) give the characters strong personalities.

Mitchell Musso is very good as the voice of D.J. who is on the verge of puberty (which is used as a cover-all for his behaviour). Sam Lerner is his cheeky friend Sam and Spencer Locke is alarmingly mature as a juvenile capitalist young girl who is drawn into the adventures of the mysterious house.

The house opposite D.J.s, which he obsessively watches through his telescope, is patrolled by its cranky owner. The house also swallows anything which strays onto its lawns. The young trio see the house transform into a monstrous face and mouth, devouring everything. They plan to destroy the house and venture in. The action inside the house is a medley of horror and scares but is nothing to what they experience outside again. With brilliant animation, the house goes on a wild rampage down the street and through the suburbs. How will D.J. and friends stop it?

There are some fascinating explanations of why the house is as aggressive as it is and all ends very happily and nicely.

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and an associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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