The Walt Disney company takes on Halloween with a film based on one of the most popular attractions at the Disney parks in “The Haunted Mansion.” In the film, Eddie Murphy stars Jim Evers, a workaholic real estate agent looking to make a big sale when he brings his family to the mansion. After staying in the mansion, the family meets the ghosts that live there as the main ghost is looking for the spirit of his beloved whom he believes is Jim’s wife, Sara.
Everyone involved deserves better than this movie. It wasn’t fun to watch. It was a chore. While putting Eddie Murphy, who is known for his risque comedy, into a Disney movie means the content will be toned down, the comedy should still be funny. It’s not. Murphy has made some truly funny family friendly films, but this wasn’t one of them. This was one of the true signs that Murphy’s filmes were not going to hold up.
But it’s not just Murphy who deserves better. Terrence Stamp plays the butler Ramsey, who is the villain of this film. Stamp is known to superhero fans for his roles in “Superman II,” “Smallville” and “Daredevil.” Stamp brings his usual gravitas to the role, but it doesn’t improve the film. Wallace Shawn has had major roles in “The Princess Bride” and “A Goofy Movie.” But here, he’s again doing his normal schtick, but it doesn’t improve the film. This film is just bad.
It’s disappointing because I had high hopes for a film based on one of my favorite rides at the Disney parks. There are some nice homages to the ride including Madame Leota and the singing busts. While those characters bring brief moments of nostalgia for the ride, they don’t elevate the film to even watchable.
While I appreciate Disney’s efforts to make films based on their rides, some work better than other and this one doesn’t work. While “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” launched one of the most successful film franchises in cinematic history, “The Haunted Mansion” is a major disappointment. Quite frankly, if you want to watch a Disney Halloween movie, watch “Hocus Pocus.” Watch “A Nightmare Before Christmas.” If you want to see one based on a ride, watch “Tower of Terror” if you can find it. Watch any movie other than this one.