“The House With a Clock in Its Walls” (Universal)

Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro and Jack Black star in a scene from the movie "The House With a Clock in Its Walls." The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. (CNS/Universal)

By Catholic News Service

After his parents are killed in an accident, a 10-year-old boy (Owen Vaccaro) goes to live with his eccentric uncle (Jack Black), who turns out to be a warlock. Having mastered some of the rudiments of his new guardian’s craft, the lad assists him and his best friend (Cate Blanchett), a nice witch, in trying to locate and stop the timepiece of the title, a doomsday device with the capacity to turn the calendar back before the advent of humanity.

For all its spells and incantations, director Eli Roth’s adaptation of the first in a series of books by John Bellairs lacks magic, though some of the humor works. Too scary for tots, the film is acceptable for most others, despite the quasi-profanities that occasionally and, given the target audience, needlessly crop up in Eric Kripke’s screenplay.

Occult themes, considerable peril, some scatological humor, a few mild oaths. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

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