Monster Family, 2018.
Directed by Holger Tappe.
Featuring the voice talents of Emily Watson, Jason Isaacs, Nick Frost, Jessica Brown Findlay, and Catherine Tate.
Count Dracula (Jason Isaacs) is lonely, with only his trio of musical bats for company, so when Emma Wishbone (Emily Watson) shows him some kindness, he puts his plans of world domination on hold to try and win her heart by turning her dysfunctional family into your favourite movie monsters; a vampire, a mummy, Frankenstein, and the Wolfman.
Being overly critical of animated fare is tough, especially when you’re not the target audience, but even with that caveat, Monster Family is a derivative bore that will fail to entertain all but those with a predilection for fart jokes.
While watching Monster Family, it’s worth noting that the genre landscape has changed. It’s not like you have to wait six months for an animated movie because of the painstaking process involved, a computer can knock them out in weeks. As such, even Pixar make the odd duffer (The Good Dinosaur, Cars 2), but that doesn’t mean you can be lazy by relying on the cinema as surrogate parent audience, because the competition is tough.
Monster Family’s biggest crime is that it doesn’t try hard enough to be unique. The animation is polished and clean, but it never feels that cinematic, with very little to distinguish it from a Saturday morning half-hour show.
Obvious comparisons will be made with Hotel Transylvania, but it’s the Shrek franchise from which this borrows the most; isolated unlovable beast with comedy sidekicks, falls for a lady who can see through his false bravado. It even ends with Pharrell’s Happy, which was used so memorably in Despicable Me 2, and only serves to remind you that this isn’t half the film the Illumination blockbuster was.
The characters are also largely forgettable, with very little complexity. They’re a role call of the most basic animated archetypes; daughter fawning over the cool kid at school, the geeky younger brother who embarrasses her, and a dad who’s struggling to be the man his family need him to be. Originality is as scarce as a decent gag.
Bringing the characters to life are a series of gratingly earnest voiceovers, with only Jason Isaacs sounding as though he’s having any fun with it, but then Dracula doesn’t really appear until about 40mins in, and even then his narrative involves enforcing Stockholm syndrome on a married woman, which is just plain weird.
Even as you keep reminding yourself that it’s only for kids, when stacked up against the similarly themed Paddington movies, the charmless Monster Family is found wanting in almost every department.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film:★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★