Tony's Take

A MONSTER CALLS review

Stories are Wild Creatures

Based on the novel of the same title, “A Monster Calls” follows Conor O’Malley, who is a young boy in England, making his way through school as he battles his demons.  Constantly being bullied at school, he also has to deal with his mother who is battling a terminal disease at home; her health always bouncing back-and-forth.  One night, Conor is awoken by a loud noise.  As he rushes to his window, he spots a big, tall yew tree (centuries old) magically-coming to life.  Soon after, the “monster” visits Conor; explaining that he is there to serve a purpose, one that is just not yet known to him.  As the monster states, he has three stories to tell Conor, before expecting him to tell one of his own.  As the inevitable begins to near and he has to deal with his intimidating grandmother as his guardian, Conor must face the monster and his demons head-on for the sake of his own.

Lewis MacDougall plays the young boy, Conor O’Malley, whose mother is fighting a terminal cancer diagnosis.  Sigourney Weaver plays Conor’s grandmother.  Felicity Jones plays Conor’s mother, Lizzie O’Malley, who is fighting cancer while taking care of her son.  Toby Kebbell plays Conor’s father who moved to Los Angeles.  Liam Neeson voices the Monster, with his signature voice fitting the tone of the creature perfectly.  James Melville plays a young bully at school, Harry.  Tom Holland performed the motion-capture performance for the Monster.

“A Monster Calls” is a beautiful mixture of life and death, one that serves as a fantastic visual aid and a moving, cinematic journey.  In one of the most heartfelt and heartbreaking young performances of 2017, MacDougall captivates the screen.  It truly is remarkable that such a young actor can perform so-well on his own; even though he had an actor to interact with, he was essentially performing one-way dialog.  The rest of the cast, led by Neeson and Weaver, are all endearing and add another element that makes “A Monster Calls” the film it is.  Featuring plenty of dark subject matter, “A Monster Calls” delightfully balances, though with clichés, it with very important life lessons, excellent visuals, and a moving story.  As for the visuals, the film contains an excellent blend of both reality and CG that is so well crafted that it looks real.  The “monster” is one of my favorite CG characters of the year as well, thanks to both the animation and Neeson’s impressive voice work!  I will be honest though, the film will certainly hit close-to-home for those of you who have young children who have experienced or are currently enduring similar hardships.  But while “A Monster Calls” will bring you to tears, it serves as a great cinematic coming-of-age device when introducing the topic of grief and how to deal with it to your children; by offering a fantastical element to captivate them.  “A Monster Calls” has a run time of 108 minutes and its ending will leave you with tears streaming down your face.  While it may not be for everyone, “A Monster Calls” teaches valuable life lessons filled with great sadness in a way that is entertaining to both kids and adults; just make sure you feel your kids are old enough before showing them the film though!

“A Monster Calls” follows a young boy who befriends a monster to deal with the hardships in his life.  The film features a moving story, plenty of lie lessons, and a few strong performances.  If you are looking for a film to move you this weekend (and you feel your kids are old enough), go see “A Monster Calls”!! 

 4/5

A MONSTER CALLS is rated PG-13 for thematic content and some scary images, in theaters JANUARY 6TH!

 

 

 

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