Monster Family: A thrown-together animation. I give up

Review: Why is an animated film set in Brooklyn voiced entirely by British actors?

Monster Family: Based, somewhat incredibly, on an actual book
Monster Family
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Director: Holger Tappe
Cert: PG
Genre: Animation
Starring: Emily Watson, Nick Frost, Jessica Brown Findlay, Celia Imrie, Catherine Tate, Jason Isaacs
Running Time: 1 hr 33 mins

It was brave of the producers to hire a co-writer called Catharina Junk. I trust the Anglo-German conglomerate behind Monster Family – obviously not ones to discriminate on the grounds of name – would also have hired Boris Nonsense, Melinda Boring and Frances What-the-Hell-Is-This-Garbage.

You have to pass the time somehow when sitting through Euro-baloney wheeled out to entertain less-demanding children in the weeks before Easter. You might, for example, ponder why a film set in Brooklyn is voiced entirely by British actors.

Emily Watson is the otherwise American owner of a bookstore who accidentally phones Dracula and gets caught up in his yearning for company. Nick Frost is a workaholic dad who, even before transformation into a monster, repeatedly farts out a green gas that causes all those around to swoon. Jason Isaacs is Dracula. Celia Imrie is an ageing hippie.

Accent hell

The accent hell reaches utter confusion when, while attempting to escape the North African desert, the family encounters a pair of archetypically vulgar tourists. They alone speak in American accents. Because they’re American tourists. But you’re all Americans. What’s going on?


None of this matters very much. But it does help confirm the thrown-together nature of Monster Family. Based, somewhat incredibly, on an actual book, the picture does seem to have had proper money put its way. Though never pretty, the computer animation is slick enough to compare with the mid-price efforts of American competitors.

The writers do strive to say something worthwhile about family life: parents and children must reconcile themselves if they want to be turned back into humans. The narrative inconsistencies are, however, ultimately so exhausting it proves impossible to grant any leeway. Why does Dracula have a jet plane? Is he also Batman?

I give up.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist