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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

(Photo by Bruce McBroom. ©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.)

photo caption:
CAUGHT IN A CRYSTAL BALL: Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy, pictured) has a frightening encounter with a crystal ball.end caption.


"The Haunted Mansion": Eddie Murphy DOA in Dopey Disney

Review by Kam Williams

This past summer, Disney served up the surprise treat of the season, with its adaptation of one its popular amusement park rides into a movie, namely, Pirates of the Caribbean. So, hopes were high for The Haunted Mansion, when the studio announced it had also turned that attraction into a feature-length film. However, lightning has failed to strike twice, as an uninspired Eddie Murphy sleepwalks through a terribly tame fright flick designed for the tiny tot set.

The once funny Murphy, now a mere shell of the comic genius of Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hours fame, is at a low point in his career where he seems unable to turn down a script. As a result, he has made more turkeys than I care to mention, including the derivative Daddy Day Care, released earlier this year. In 2002, he attempted an ill-advised collaboration with Robert DeNiro called Showtime, and the abysmal Adventures of Pluto Nash, which ended up on my 10 Worst List.

For the Haunted Mansion, instead of acting, Eddie has been reduced to mugging for the camera while feigning fear by widening his eyes and shrieking in a shrill falsetto. Nothing about this predictable misadventure could possibly capture the imagination of anyone over the age of 8, as its cookie-cutter plotline is the opposite of engaging.

Set in New Orleans, Eddie plays Jim Evers, a workaholic real estate agent who gets a lot more than he bargained for the night he pays a visit to Gracey Manor, a spacious estate inhabited by the 200 year-old ghost of a plantation owner. Accompanied by his wife, Sara (Marsha Thomason), and their adorably precocious kids, Michael (Marc John Jeffries) and Megan (Aree Davis), Jim and his family gets stranded in the old mansion for a night of hijinks.

The plot revolves around a case of mistaken identity as Sara happens to be a dead ringer for Master Gracey's (Nathaniel Parker) late ex-lover, a slave girl named Elizabeth who was murdered on account of their illicit liaison. He committed suicide and the house has remained cursed ever since. Gracey, who has never gotten over Elizabeth, spends the balance of the movie wooing Sara while keeping her easily-spooked hubby and her industrious offspring occupied by ordeal after ordeal.

The latter is easily achieved, as the mansion is outfitted with every fright fare staple such as creaky doors, a molten pit, a spider infestation, darting eyes behind oil paintings, statues which speak, magical mirrors, and a disembodied soothsayer (Jennifer Tilly) inside a crystal ball. But, not surprisingly, it's quite another matter for the Master to convince Sarah to forsake her family.

Yawn. A mind-numbing misadventure more funereal than funny or frightening.

Fair. Rated PG for scary images, mature themes and mild epithets.


end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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