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Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.


Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris


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Movie review

Step right into 'Haunted Mansion'

By BILLY NORRIS
Published December 1, 2003

Eddie Murphy
Buena Vista Pictures
Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy) and his family stumble on ghostly goings-on in The Haunted Mansion.
Billy Norris
Read the reviews
by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

The Haunted Mansion

Rating: PG

Summary: Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy) and his wife, Sara (Marsha Thomason), are successful real estate agents working as partners. He is a bit more compulsive about their work and keeps up a nonstop pace, often neglecting his family. After missing an anniversary celebration, he plans a weekend getaway to the lake with his wife and two kids, Megan (Aree Davis) and Michael (Marc John Jefferies). But then Sara gets an invitation to visit a mansion that is about to go on the market, and the lure is irresistible to Jim. Sara agrees to just "stop by" on their way to the lake. Upon arriving at this eerie mansion, they are greeted by an elderly butler named Ramsley (Terence Stamp) and its owner Edward Gracey (Nathaniel Parker). The family discovers some strange, ghostly happenings in and around the house, and they soon realize that they are there for more than just real estate business.

My View: I was pleasantly surprised by this flick. The trailers made it seem fairly generic, with the only excitement coming from Murphy's onscreen antics. This is another film based on a Disney theme park attraction, following The Country Bears and Pirates of the Caribbean. This gave the screenwriters creative license to develop a well-rounded plot. They did a nice job, making the plot interesting enough to hold our attention for 80 minutes. There were a lot of throwbacks to the ride, as expected: the barbershop quartet of statues, the fortune-telling head in a glass ball, etc. The Evers family aptly captured the essence of the "fright" experienced by a family on the ride. The sarcastic nature of the fortuneteller (Jennifer Tilly) and the droll humor of the butler were especially witty. Overall, this film turns out to be one of the better family offerings this season.

Recommendations: Scariness could be a factor here. But if you can handle the ride, you can handle the movie.

Grade: B

Billy Norris, 16, is in the 10th grade at Seminole High School and is a former member of the Times X-Team.

[Last modified November 28, 2003, 10:19:16]

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