An unexpected delight, The House of Magic, is a curiously old-fashioned and understated children's animated movie that will take parents back to their childhood memories of such films before the age of brash blockbusters came to pass.
The appeal of House of Magic is, perhaps, that it isn't produced by one of the major animation studios, but instead hails from Belgian writer-director Ben Staasen's nWave films, which previously specialised in IMAX spectaculars. The animation, while still lifelike, does look subtly different from the Disney/Pixar model.
Staasen's story concerns an abandoned cat Thunder, who stumbles into a decaying mansion during a storm and is adopted by its owner, eccentric magician Lawrence - to the chagrin of Lawrence's cranky pet rabbit, Jack, and mouse, Maggie.
When Lawrence is admitted to hospital after an accident, his real-estate salesman nephew seizes his chance and tries to sell his house from under him - forcing Jack and Thunder to unite to halt him.
The obvious finale looms a long way off, but that doesn't detract from the pleasure you get from the frenzied chase scenes, the raft of clever little characters brought to life by Lawrence's magic dust, and the simplicity of a tale well told. A good choice for the under-10s this holidays.
THE HOUSE OF MAGIC (G)
- Sunday Star Times