DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

A MONSTER CALLS (director: J.A. Bayona; screenwriter: Patrick Ness/from the novel written by Ness/orinal idea by Siobhan Dowd; cinematographer: Oscar Faura; editors: Bernat Vilaplana, Jaume Marti; music: Fernando Velazquez; cast:  Lewis MacDougall (Conor), Liam Neeson  (The Monster), Felicity Jones (Mum), Toby Kebbell (Dad), Sigourney Weaver (Grandma), Geraldine Chaplin (The Head Teacher); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Belen Atienza; Focus Features; 2016-USA/Spain)

"A visually delightful fantasy film."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A visually delightful fantasy film, one probably better suited for older children because it has many scares for the young ones. The director is J.A. Bayona  ("The Impossible"/"The Orphanage"). It's based on the novel by Patrick Ness, who also wrote the screenplay. Ness was inspired by an original idea by Siobhan Dowd.

Conor (
Lewis MacDougall) is a lonely 12-year-old British boy, living in an unnamed small English town. He is bullied in school by classmates, and can't sleep at night because of bad dreams. His mum (Felicity Jones) is stricken with cancer and his dad (Toby Kebbell) left to raise another family in Los Angeles. Dad comes for a short visit, but he lives too far apart to touch base with the needy boy. Conor's imperious grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) looks after him but is not sympathetic. The mentally tortured kid finds an unlikely ally in an imagined monster (Liam Neeson, voiceover), who suddenly appears by his bedroom window. The monster becomes the kid's guide after promising to tell him three stories before Conor must return the favor in a story that will reveal "the truth" about his bad dreams.

The setup is classical fairy tale fodder, as the monster takes the kid on a journey so he can find the courage to believe in himself, deal with loss and find the truth about his grief. Even if the weepie film turns a wrong page when it becomes overly sentimental and pulls too much at the heartstrings, it still remains watchable .

REVIEWED ON 12/7/2016       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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