Wylie Writes @ TIFF KIDS 2014: The House of Magic


By: Addison Wylie

The House of Magic is an abundantly likeable film, and will certainly be a memorable pick at this year’s TIFF Kids.  On the surface, the bouncy flick has all the ingredients for a smiling good time at the theatre.  There’s an adorable cat, whimsical magic, and stunning animation paired with incredible use of 3D technology.

It’s to be warned that Jérémie Degruson and Ben Stassen’s film isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the first few scenes.  The House of Magic follows older Disney fodder by introducing furry feline Thunder to the audience in an unfortunate way.  He’s abandoned and unwanted by nearly everybody, which instantly has us vying to see some sort of affection towards him.

The film steps into its own circuit when The House of Magic puts the audience into the small-scale perspective from Thunder.  These point-of-view shots basically turns Degruson and Stassen’s movie into a video game, but The House of Magic doesn’t feel as gimmicky as you’d expect.

Moviegoers get plenty of objects and animals that jut out of the screen with the well executed 3D, but these chase sequences only sometimes call attention to the in-your-face imersiveness.  The film is usually more interested in showcasing breezy excitement instead of flaunting its technical achievements.

The vocal cast has been assigned admirably, with each actor being able to flawlessly step into their animated roles.  The House of Magic originates from Belgium and the lack of gratuitous top tier American names is actually kind of nice.  It shows that the production is confident and content with its talent.  The filmmakers’ humbleness is especially appreciated in an age where animated flicks feel the need to fly in special guests to gain some sort of clout.

Some older patrons may find themselves catching hints of Casper and Mouse Hunt as they watch this clan of unlikely creatures and mechanical wingnuts defend their house from a crooked real estate agent.  But , the film – of course – is made for young children.  That crowd will have a blast watching The House of Magic.  It’s energetic and the story is easy to follow.  Degruson and Stassen also invite a number of cute and funny side characters that will have young moviegoers beaming.

There are a couple of things I wish the film swayed away from in order for it to feel more original.  It further proved that animated films will never have a docile chihuahua, and that characters will always bust-a-move during those final moments of the movie.  The villainous agent, however, does bring a loaded shotgun into play when he’s on his last nerve – that’s something I didn’t expect.  But, this surprise may also turn some parents off from an otherwise good chase.

The House of Magic is an affable family film.  It may not stand next to films flowing out of Pixar or Dreamworks, but it’s peppy radiance is enough to earn its way into your good books.


Catch The House of Magic at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox on:

Saturday, April 19 at 5:00 p.m. (with a post-screening Q&A with co-director Ben Stassen)

Sunday, April 20 at 1:00 p.m.

Click here for more details and to buy tickets.

Visit the official TIFF Kids webpage here!

Visit the official TIFF webpage here!

Other TIFF Kids Coverage:

Read my review of Knight Rusty here!
Read my review of The Numberlys here!

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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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