Two years later and Gere mysteriously finds himself in a remote town beside the Ohio river. With the help of the local State Police Sergeant [ Laura Linney ] he investigates the supernatural forces that appear to have summoned him, and are disrupting the lives of the local citizens.
This is not really a mystery or a horror film. There are certain moments of tension and uneasiness, but nothing compared to the works of maestros such as David Lynch . All in all, it is a lukewarm effort, little more than a big-budget X-Files episode.
The film starts with photographer David Morse [ Green Mile ] attending the funeral of his boyhood friend. He then starts to reminisce about their last summer together, which makes up the main body of the film.
On his Eleventh birthday the young Morse lives with his widowed mother, who is trapped in an unhappy relationship with her employer. To earn money she takes in an upstairs lodger, an enigmatic character played by Anthony Hopkins.
The boy gradually learns that Hopkins is more than what he seems. The old man appears to have a form of telepathic ability, and is being hunted by mysterious Men in Black.
King has dealt with childhood issues in far superior works such as It , The Body [filmed as Stand By Me] and Apt Pupil. This is nothing but a pale shadow of them. The cast acquit themselves well enough, but despite the best efforts of Goldman the filmís real problem is the script. The supernatural element is minimal, amounting only to Magic Realism, and the thriller subplot is ... unthrilling.
Widower Tony Shaloub is Cyrus' nephew. Shaloub, his daughter Shannon Elizabeth and his irritating ten-year-old son inherit Cyrus' mansion. Along with their African-American home help and Cyrus' creepy lawyer they head off to view the mansion. Matthew Lillard pops up too.
Once they are all inside the house a clockwork mechanism is activated. Not only is the building a boobytrapped prison as in Cube , but the killer ghosts are also on the loose in it as in House On Haunted Hill! Embeth Davidz pops up, very reminiscent of Ripley in Aliens , and provides some exposition. This tries to explain of the plot, but let's face it - in this film things only happen because some talentless hack said It'll be cool if we do this!
The problem with this movie is that while it copies many excellent films, it fails to achieve anything. Elizabeth is not here as T&A, but there is no depth to her character. The ten-year-old is irritatingly stupid. The token African American spouts the usual jive-talk cliches. Tony Shaloub is an excellent actor, but since all he cares about is his kids [and we do NOT care about them] it is difficult to relate to them. Matthew Lillard is excellent, both his acting and the part itself, but how many movies has he ever lived through? And F Abraham Murray? He is excellent, but totally underrused.
Diego is less than trustworthy. His friends in the tiger pack, including the dim-witted Zeke [Jack Black], are out for easy meat ...
Even for a childrens' film this has many flaws. The story is very short, at just over an hour. There is very little plot, and unlike other CGI animated movies there are very few characters. The story moves from one slapstick setpiece to another, and character development is quite pedestrian. When humans hunt animals for food it is acceptable, but when the tigers attack their prey it is somehow wrong.
But, well, the scenes with the furry critter with the acorn are pretty good. Best thing about the movie, in fact.
The moral of the story is Don't Talk To Strangers. Jimmy accidentally contacts a race of parent-eating aliens ruled by King Patrick Stewart [ Star Trek: TNG ] and his comic-relief brother Martin Short [ Inner Space ]. Billy West [ Futurama ] provides a bunch of other supporting voices.
The children enjoy their new-found freedom, but soon discover that they need parents and adults. Jimmy turns the local funfair rides into space rockets and the children fly off to save their parents.