What's good: Welcome, foolish mortals, to a movie based on one of Disneyland's most beloved attractions. The haunted mansion itself is indeed the star of the movie: its intricate design and decoration are a wonder to behold. And so are its inhabitants -- ghosts who were cursed more than 100 years ago and are doomed to be prisoners of the house unless the curse is lifted. The luminous ghosts, especially in the graveyard scene, are amazing spectacles.
The plot is complicated enough to keep adults interested: Workaholic realtor Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy), his wife, Sara (Marsha Thomason), and kids, Megan (Aree Davis) and Michael (John Micheal Jeffries), set out on a weekend getaway but take a detour along the way to view a potential listing. When a torrential downpour traps the family in the house, they are forced to spend the night and the adventure begins. The owner of the house, Master Gracey, believes Sara to be his long-lost (and long-dead) love and wants to marry her. Jim and the kids must follow the clues of Madame Leota to find the key that will unlock the house's mystery and save Sara from her fate.
What to watch for: Very young kids may be frightened by the zombies that Murphy and Davis encounter in the mausoleum and some suspenseful moments. One young girl, Kendall, 7, said she thought the movie was scary, but she loved it and wanted to see it again, this time without covering her eyes. She wasn't frightened by the zombies, but she did jump when Murphy looks in a mirror and turns into a decaying monster. A floating hand landing on Davis' shoulder also caused the young moviegoer to scream. She thought the movie was really funny, while most adults I know groaned at a lot of Murphy's hokey lines.
The Haunted Mansion is a perfectly enjoyable family film. And for fans of the ride, this movie is a "don't miss" -- in addition to the beautiful mansion, audiences will delight in noticing the many "nods" to the attraction, like the hitch-hiking ghosts, the Portrait Gallery, and the very amusing quartet of singing busts.