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Review: “The House with a Clock in its Walls” offers family-friendly comedy

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The House with a Clock in its Walls

Jack Black stars in 2018 movie "A House with a Clock in its Walls."

Jack Black brings his signature comedy to “The House with a Clock in its Walls,” and manages to stand out among the actors along with costars Cate Blanchett and Owen Vaccaro.

Based on John Bellairs' novel, “The House with a Clock in its Walls” is about recently orphaned Lewis Barnevelt (Owen Vaccaro) as he begins a new life with his Uncle, Johnathan Barnevelt (Jack Black) and their neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett).

Things become strange when Johnathan reveals to Lewis that he is a warlock and Mrs. Zimmerman is a witch. Johnathan agrees to help Lewis learn to become a warlock, and things quickly take a turn for the worse when Lewis accidentally raises the evil warlock Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan) from the dead. Isaac, along with his wife, Selena (Renee Elise Goldsberry), plans to turn back time world and return it to a state without humans.

Owen Vaccaro’s take on Lewis Barnevelt is charming and connects well with younger audiences. Lewis is a whimsical kid who finds joy in learning new words from the dictionary and watching “Captain Midnight.”

He has a hard time making friends and goes out of his way to prove himself to kids at his new school, going as far as accidentally raising Isaac Izard from the dead to impress a friend. Lewis’ struggle to make friends is relatable, and even through his mistakes the audience never turns on Lewis, instead cheering for him the whole way through.

Jack Black brings every ounce of quirkiness and hilarity to Johnathan Barnevelt in a way that only an actor like Jack Black could. His chemistry with Owen Vaccaro and Cate Blanchett is infectious and hilarious. The exchanges where Mrs. Zimmerman and Johnathan Barnevelt quickly insult each other back and forth offer some of the best quick comedy and one-liners in the movie.

Director Eli Roth, who is known for his gory, R-rated motion pictures, outdoes himself in this comedic family friendly thriller where he brings the magic to life. The effects are well done and mixed with exceptional camera work. Roth brings the magical world to life flawlessly.

The writing for the movie is also very well done. Jack Black is able to let his comedic style shine through and is not held back by the writing. The plot also highlights the best aspects of Cate Blanchett and Owen Vaccaro’s acting, especially helping unproven Owen Vaccaro’s career.

“The House with a Clock in its Walls” is meant for younger audiences, but offers enough for people of all ages to enjoy. Whether movie-goers are looking for a comedy, thriller or family friendly movie, “The House with a Clock in its Walls” is enjoyable and relatable for people of all ages.

entertainment.ed@ocolly.com