20 March 2019 | vchimpanzee
Funny, family friendly but creepy mystery
In a cul-de-sac in a nice neighborhood (a description from one of the movie's characters), a group of kids wonder about Dr. Vargas, who moved into the big creepy house with his pretty teen daughter Heather. They see weird things going on and hear what sounds like a monster.
James has a treehouse which says "no girls allowed". His father is no longer around, whatever that means. He has a hot mom Denise who has a master's degree in something related to "sustainability".
Mike is a genius who uses big words who, with the other kids, likes to make movies. The neighborhood cats, many of whom are missing since Dr. Vargas moved in, are among the movie's stars.
Rosemary is 12 (only her age is mentioned, but the others appear the same age) and cute but obnoxious. She is sort of a tomboy (ignoring James' rule) but she LOOOVES Justin Timberlake. She has a tendency to appear without warning, startling people.
Obie is a nerd and somewhat clumsy, has difficutly in social interactions and is afraid to take chances. He is given the job of putting tracking devices on the cats.
Brian is the human star of Mike's movie and the delivery person for a company which sells organic and locally sourced pet food and supplies. He makes numerous large deliveries to Dr. Vargas and seems to enjoy the same music as girls who are teenagers or younger.
And Mrs. Van Fennig, who enjoys working out (sorry, she doesn't look like Denise, but like Rhea Perlman), has a large tuxedo cat Elvis, the only cat not to be an apparent victim of whatever is going on.
Heather is responsible but somewhat rebellious and the annoying kids get on her nerves. And she's pretty.
This kids take a break from their movie and investigate what is happening in Dr. Vargas' house. In addition to the missing animals, they have reason to suspect a person has been abducted. Naturally, they commit illegal acts which sometimes get them in trouble, but they are quite capable investigators, able to do what adults do in hit TV series.
There is, of course, a logical explanation to everything, but something happens near the end that could have had serious consequences.
The final scene suggests a sequel. Which I would enjoy, because there's some unfinished business.
This is good for what it is. Not a masterpiece by any means, but entertaining. All the young actors are talented, especially Caitlin Carmichael as Rosemary.
Even Denise Richards is pretty good. I mean good. But you have to admit she's pretty. There is one scene which stands out, where she calmly explains what is wrong with her son's behavior and what she expects of him and why,
The actor playing Dr. Vargas fails to reach his potential. I don't know if it's the writing or him.
Creepy music sets the mood from time to time. Another scene has heavy metal music with the kids moving in slow motion, and another has some kind of high-tech rock with an exciting look at of the kids at work.
When I saw this movie, it was rated TV-14. There is no reason for this. I wouldn't recommend this to young or sensitive children but nothing about this justifies anything over TV-PG. Sure, there are discussions of possible violence to animals, and murder of humans, but it's not that much worse than, say, Scooby-Doo. This is actually quite similar to a scary Halloween movie I saw but can't remember the details of, including who was in it or even the title. That one was less family-friendly but still nothing to be too concerned about.
Be sure to stay around for the credits, which are interrupted by at least part of Mike's movie. It's quite good, better than the rest of this. I would even say on its own it could have been nominated for the short film Oscar. Okay, maybe not, but a winner in a competition for young people..
I had a good time and that's what counts.