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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Funny and Mysterious Wizardry
by Diana Saenger

The timing of this Eli Roth film -- written by Eric Kripke and adapted from the book by John Bellairs -- is just right with Halloween coming soon. In The House with a Clock in Its Walls, 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) has lost his parents and goes to live with his uncle Jonathan (Jack Black). Jonathan is not like a normal uncle. He’s actually a warlock full of magic and sorcery, and his best friend Florence (Cate Blanchett) is also a potent magician. It takes a little while for Lewis to get used to a new school and this very unusual house. There are puppets and weird figurines all over the place as well as scary noises plus strange artifacts -- and lots and lots of clocks.

Once his uncle reveals that he is a warlock, Lewis becomes fascinated with all the tricks and mysterious things his uncle wants to teach him. There is only one warning, and that involves a  big book in a special place on the wall which is not to be removed under any circumstances.

Not being very athletic, Lewis is not greeted well at school. He sets his eye on Tarby (Sunny Suljic), the most popular kid in class. She spends time with him and is interested to see all the magic things he says his uncle has taught him. While visiting the big weird house with Lewis, she is amazed at the doomsday clicking clock left by earlier tenant Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan). Unless they find a way to stop it, this clock will destroy all humanity..

When Tarby dares Lewis to bring a dead body back to life, Lewis accidentally raises Isaac Izard, who returns to the house and finds something very scary happening with the clock.

Cast members for this movie were well selected.  Cate Blanchett projects a sweet attitude that kind of fills Lewis’ longing for his mother. Owen Vaccaro seems perfect as the brave, investigative and delightful Lewis. Jack Black is funny and toned down from some of his more fiery actions.

It’s really fun watching Lewis at school when his magic makes him more popular, and when his family at home -- including Uncle and Florence  -- are always doing magic. Fans of the book will love this movie. The film is rated “PG,” however there are some scary actions or happenings that might scare children under 7.

(Released by Universal Pictures and rated “PG” for thematic elements including sorcery, some action, scary images, rude humor and language)

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