Eddie Murphy, Marsha Thomason
This pallid ghost tale is the Disney studio’s third attempt to revitalize one of its aging theme-park attractions by repackaging it as a movie. It ranks right between the other two—better than The Country Bears (what isn’t?) but miles below Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Murphy phones in his performance as Jim Evers, a workaholic real-estate agent who promises his fed-up wife (Thomason) and kids (Marc John Jefferies and Aree Davis) a weekend away. But first they make a quick stop at a mansion, one of his potential listings, and the family soon finds itself confronting ghosts and other semiscary stuff. It seems that the house is haunted by a 19th-century rich guy (Nathaniel Parker) who was once smitten with a woman who looked like Mrs. Evers.
The Haunted Mansion is loaded with special effects and rattling skeletons. This, and the few laughs, may be enough to keep youngsters tuned in, but accompanying adults will find the goings-on as lifeless as the decaying corpses who come crawling out of crypts. (PG)