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12 Jan 2017

Monster Mush: 'A Monster Calls' Has Some Fine Moments, but It Never Comes Together as a Whole

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Lewis MacDougall and Sigourney Weaver in A Monster Calls. Lewis MacDougall and Sigourney Weaver in A Monster Calls.

This is a well-meaning movie with good heart—but it was better when it was called The Iron Giant.

J.A. Bayona’s film based on the Patrick Ness book tells the tale of Conor (Lewis MacDougall), a young boy whose mother (Felicity Jones) is dying. Conor is, understandably, having issues—not just with the impending loss of his mother, but with bullies at school and a domineering grandma (Sigourney Weaver) he doesn’t quite understand. When things come to a boil, a tree monster (the voice of Liam Neeson) shows up to offer guidance and tough love.

MacDougall gives a respectable performance, as do Jones and Weaver, but the film never really works. The relationship between the boy and the imaginative monster does not make much sense, so the human interactions wind up being far more interesting. Problem is, this movie is called A Monster Calls, and much of the film leans on the effectiveness of the monster scenes. There are moments where everything jells—but it never lasts.

For the most part, the movie feels disjointed, uneven and too similar to films that have come before it. It doesn’t earn the tears it wants you to shed at the end. It’s just kind of manipulative and weird

A Monster Calls is now playing at the Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 (72777 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage; 844-462-7342).

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