Published Nov 01, 2003Could it be true? Is it possible that story ideas, like matter, are of an infinite amount and we've simply run out of them? That might explain the sudden zealous influx of remakes a few years back and may even account for the bizarre (and seemingly desperate) trend in Disneyland of making films based on amusement park rides.
Not that anyone was complaining after Pirates of the Caribbean. With a scruffy Johnny Depp doing what he does best looking cool while being aided by the sprightly Orlando Bloom, the film was easily enjoyable even to those who had never set foot in the Magic Kingdom. Haunted Mansion is a bumpier ride.
Overeager real estate agent Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy) insists on accompanying his wife Sara (Marsha Thomason) to an old mansion she is asked to assess. When they decide to check it out on the way to a weekend retreat with their family, they find the proprietor and his butler a little odd. And with the roadway flooded and the Evers family forced to spend the night, there are about to find a lot more things odd.
Orlando Bloom was a fairly solid support for Depp in Pirates. Earnest and likeable, we could watch him on screen and not be too bitter about him stealing our face time with Depp. The same cannot be said of Marsha Thomason, whose bland performance is not a match for Murphy's larger-than-life persona. But neither does Murphy live up to Depp's performance. It feels like Murphy doesn't trust himself in this film. There are plenty of moments that should be labelled: "insert humour here." Murphy is capable of more, much more, than this performance offers. And speaking of not living up to abilities, Terrence Stamp as the creepy butler also puts forth a lifeless performance.
Thankfully, the Evers children, played by Marc John Jefferies and Aree Davis, and servants Wallace Shawn and Dina Waters add some levity. And Jennifer Tilly's constricted role also has some moments. But Haunted Mansion is a film that is difficult to enjoy without being reminded that "it's based on a ride" every few scenes. (Disney/Buena Vista)